YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesFCC TO RE-AUCTION SOME C-BLOCK LICENSES

FCC TO RE-AUCTION SOME C-BLOCK LICENSES

WASHINGTON-The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau plans to re-auction 18 C-block personal communications services licenses July 3, following the failure of BDPCS Inc. and National Telecom PCS Inc. to make their required 5 percent down payments by May 15.

The bureau chose to re-auction the licenses rather than to award them to the next-highest bidder, saying that a new round of bidding “will rapidly and efficiently assign the licenses.” Form 175 applications and upfront payments by prospective auction participants are due June 14. Further information regarding the auction will be released today.

The markets that will go back on the block include: Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minn.; Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, Colo.; Seattle, Olympia, Bremerton and Bellingham, Wash.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Salem and Eugene, Ore.; Longview, Wash.; Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.; and American Samoa.

Both BDPCS’s petition for reconsideration and NatTel’s petition for waiver of the bid-withdrawal payment were denied May 30; subsequently, their Form 600 applications were dismissed.

“We are extremely disappointed in the FCC’s action,” said Robert H. Kyle, director, chief executive officer and chairman of BDPCS Inc. “The entire staff of (parent company) QuestCom Inc. is very dedicated to PCS, and we hope to be a key part of this industry in the future.” Kyle and his attorneys will decide whether to file an appeal to the full commission or to seek a reversal of its decision to dismiss his Form 600 applications.

Attorney David LaFuria of Lukas, McGowan, Nace and Gutierrez, who represents National Telecom PCS Inc., told RCR that he will be filing an appeal to the full commission on behalf of his client. NatCom, winner of the American Samoa licenses in both the C-block and the 900 MHz specialized mobile radio auctions, had enough cash in its down-payment fund to meet its obligation, but because of a pending bid-withdrawal penalty on a pass made for Dodge City, Kan., it fell about $10,000 short at the time the payment was due.

“[The FCC] could have denied our waiver request and then given us a few days to come up with the money instead of dismissing us out of hand,” LaFuria said. “We want the same treatment as was given to PCS 2000. Their bid withdrawal penalty was something like $100 million, and the commission did not require them to submit another $50 million while it waits for a penalty-waiver decision.”

Western Minnesota PCS L.P. is waiting in the wings for the re-auction to begin. Western Minnesota held the second-highest bid on St. Cloud, Minn., and held the property for 100 rounds before being outbid by BDPCS. The company will re-enter the auction for St. Cloud, a spokesman said. Western Minnesota had offered to reclaim the property for its last highest bid before BDPCS entered the fray, but it never got a response from the FCC.

“We are very disgusted that the FCC did not offer these licenses to the second-highest bidder,” said Phil Chasmar of 21st Century Telesis Joint Venture, which wanted the New Mexico markets. “They should have given us the option. The FCC is trying to be done with this at all costs and quickly. They aren’t making decisions in the best interest of the public. They just care about the best interest of the FCC.” Chasmar has not made a decision whether to re-enter the auction arena, but he did say there was a “groundswell” of anger that has arisen among other bidders that lost licenses to BDPCS that “we might join.”

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