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Re: Auction of Licenses for the 747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands Postponed Until March 6, 2001, Public Notice, WT Docket 99-168

I believe a further postponement of the 700 MHz Auction (Auction No. 31) is necessary as a matter of sound spectrum management and is consistent with a balanced reading of all our statutory obligations. As the expert agency charged with managing the nation's airwaves, it is of paramount importance that the Commission allocate and assign as valuable a resource as the spectrum in the 747-762 MHz and 777-792 MHz band in a manner that comports with the specific statutory requirements of the Communications Act governing spectrum management and spectrum auctions. In complying with conflicting statutes, and resolving those directives as we proceed toward an auction, I believe the Commission's primary goal should be to conduct an auction that is fair, efficient, puts the spectrum to the best use, and thereby best serves the public interest.

With that in mind, the Commission takes this action today in response to a request from a large number of potential bidders asking us to do so. Among the reasons cited for the request is the fact that industry needs more time to develop their business plans and bidding strategies in light on the special characteristics of this band. It is undisputed that factors surrounding this spectrum, including the incumbency of the UHF television broadcasters in this band, make bidder planning for this auction unusually complex. In support of their position, industry representatives cite Section 309(j)(3)(E)(ii) of the Communications Act. Under this section of the Communications Act, the Commission must provide an adequate time after issuance of bidding rules "to ensure that interested parties have a sufficient time to develop business plans, access market conditions, and evaluate the availability of equipment for the relevant services." The consensus of the potential bidders for this auction is that a September 6th auction will not satisfy this obligation. We are aware of no industry party or member of Congress who oppose the industry request or rationale.

Although the Commission takes congressional deadlines very seriously, upon weighing the statutory obligations of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2000 against those in our charter statute, the Communications Act, the action taken today is appropriately tailored to balance our responsibilities in a manner that best serves the public interest. At the same time, I believe it is not possible to comply with the Appropriations Act deadline and satisfy our obligations under the Communications Act concerning our spectrum management responsibilities and, in particular, our obligations to conduct fair and efficient auctions. Accordingly, in order to ensure a successful and competitive auction, and to meet all of our statutory responsibilities, I believe postponement of this auction until March of 2001 is the right course for this Commission to take at this time.