VIEWPOINT

The wireless industry is certainly capturing a few people’s attention these days.

The House has designed legislation that would supersede arguments on the legalities of an entrepreneur auction. If the bill is passed-and it obviously would have to pass both Houses and receive the president’s signature-the entrepreneurial personal communications services auction would be held by Dec. 4.

Included in a House Commerce Committee bill is a provision that would ratify today’s competitive bidding rules, which were made race- and gender-neutral after the Supreme Court in June curbed affirmative action. Those auction guidelines, currently the subject of various lawsuits, would become the law of the land.

I don’t know about the legality of Congress stepping in the middle of a dispute set to be decided by the court system. I believe the bigger problem here is that Congress, in its haste to get the auction going and therefore raise more money to reduce the deficit, will push aside the merits of everybody’s arguments in favor of adding money to federal coffers. I’m guessing in town halls across America, numerous representatives are taking credit for reducing the federal budget defecit by nearly $8 billion at the expense of Big Business.

At least in a judicial setting, one can assume the merits of the law would hold more weight than the possibility of raising money to help reduce the deficit.

Attorney and industry expert Frederick Joyce points out in an article in this issue (page 16) that the government didn’t seem nearly as interested in promoting ownership diversity in the wireless communications industry before it became a high-risk, speculative field that just so happened to raise money for the government.

Oh, how right he is.

Some day this auction will start … and end.

… Meanwhile, things are shaking up in the paging industry-again.

MobileMedia Corp. has plans to acquire BellSouth Corp.’s MobileComm paging subsidiary and its two-way nationwide narrowband personal communications services license for $945 million, the largest acquisition ever in the paging industry. (This announcement comes on the heels of Arch Communications Group Inc. completing its merger with USA Mobile Communications Holdings Inc., which previously held the distinction of being the largest acquisition in the history of paging.

Combined, the MobileMedia/MobileComm business will have 4 million subscribers and more than $560 million in revenues, trailing Paging Network Inc., the nation’s largest paging provider at 5.4 million subscribers.

Thus, the first narrowband paging license has been sold, before the first system is even operating. It looks like SkyTel Corp. will win that honor as it plans to turn on its two-way paging network Tuesday.

… Nearly 10,000 people are going to attend PCIA’s PCS show this week. That is about the same number of people who live in my home town. Even as this industry shrinks, it gets bigger. This is the largest issue of RCR ever printed!

See you at the show!

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