The Federal Communications Commission set Jan. 16, 2008, as the date to begin auctioning TV spectrum reclaimed in the switch to digital broadcasting.
The commission was required by Congress to start the auction by the end of January 2008 so that the money -- perhaps as much as $15 billion -- could be deposited in the treasury by midyear to help pay for the digital-to-analog converter-box program and programs to help first-responders, as well as for deficit reduction.
The FCC earlier this month came up with rules for how the spectrum would be divided up for sale, including setting some aside for a public-private emergency-communications network and applying open-access conditions on the prime real estate for a new national wireless network.
Some 1,099 licenses are up for grabs in the 700-megahertz band.
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