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FCC Expected to Cancel $16 Billion Wireless Auction of NextWave Spectrum
Posted: 12-Sep-2002 [Source: Dow Jones]

[FCC expected to allow carriers to opt out of auction of reclaimed NextWave spectrum in efforts to help the debt-laden US telecom industry.]

by Yochi Dreazen, Washington -- "In a move with large implications for the battered wireless industry, federal regulators have decided to free major carriers of their obligation to pay the $16 billion they bid during an ill-fated government spectrum auction, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Federal Communications Commission ( news - web sites) could release an order seeking public comment on different options for resolving the issue as early as Thursday, these people said. At least one of the proposals would allow the carriers to opt out of the auction and free themselves of their remaining debt to the government altogether, a move many of the carriers have said they would exercise almost immediately.

The move would follow months of intense pressure from carriers anxious to be freed of their obligation to pay the government the full amount they bid during a controversial auction of spectrum reclaimed from bankrupt NextWave Telecom Inc. The results of that auction were thrown into disarray last year when a federal appeals court ordered the FCC ( news - web sites) to return the spectrum to NextWave. The FCC appealed that decision, and the case will be heard by the Supreme Court next month."

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