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FCC to auction three 3G bands from June 06

Formerly federal spectrum

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will auction off the States' 1710-1755MHz and 2110-2155MHz spectrum bands to prospective 3G telephony providers by June 2006 at the earliest.

The FCC will also auction off the 1432-1435MHz band soon afterward, the organisation said, possibly as early as July or August 2006.

The June 2006 timetable emerged as the FCC filed its intention to open the two bands to the highest bidders with the US Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The NTIA notification must come at least 18 months before the auction process begins, according to the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act, which mandates that timeframe when one-time government-only spectrum is opened up to commercial usage, a process the Act was created to drive. In return, the NTIA has to tell the FCC how much the process of transferring federal users from the 1710-1755MHz band to another part of the spectrum is going to cost bidders.

The FCC admitted that a number of requests have been made that the 1710-1755MHz and 2110-2155MHz bands not be transferred to commercial usage. However, the regulator said it expects to resolve these "in the very near future".

The auctions themselves will provide successful bidders with licences to provide "advanced wireless services" - the FCC's formal language for 3G. The FCC said it hopes the transition will ensure US consumers get access to "competitive, high quality communications services".

"For all of us who believe in the future of wireless broadband, it is truly a banner day," FCC chairman Michael 'Son of Colin' Powell in his letter to the NTIA. ®

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