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Jan 12 2008   12:05AM GMT

Overheard: Did Web 2.0 bubble puts national public safety network in jeopardy?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

fcc-logo.gif Frontline Wireless, which has made no secret of its desire to bid and win on the D-block spectrum, has a released a statement saying ” Frontline is closed for business at this time. We have no further comment.”

Paul Miller, 700MHz hopeful Frontline “closed for business”

Frontline Wireless LLC was the only prospective bidder that seemed interested in buying the D-block spectrum, the only spectrum in the upcoming FCC auction that was earmarked to be shared with public safety. According the New York Times, Frontline wasn’t able to raise the $128 million dollars it had to pony up to stay in the auction.

It came as a shock because the Silicon Valley startup had big backers. Frontline’s management includes former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Telecommunications Policy Janice Obuchowski.

Whispers of “Web 2.0 bubble” began to turn into out-loud happy hour conversations, but I’m not buying it. The inabilty to raise funds is more likely tied to the fact that the FCC was asking for too much. Figuratively and literally.

The auction rules for the D-block are ridiculously complex, requiring that public safety officials get the last word when it comes to deciding how to build the network — and what private company wants to have to deal with that? Even worse, whoever builds the network has to foot the entire bill, which is expected to be in the billions. Sure I’d like to spend billions of my own money and have a government bureaucracy call the shots for me. Wouldn’t you?

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