Frontline and other supporters of an open-access broadband network say the 700MHz spectrum auctions represent the last chance for the U.S. to create a new broadband network to compete with cable modem and DSL (digital subscriber line) providers. In late 2005, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that requires U.S. television stations to move to digital broadcasts and abandon spectrum in the 700MHz band by February 2009.
That spectrum allows broadband signals to travel three to four times farther than signals transmitted in higher bands.
The Frontline plan would require the winning bidder of one chunk of spectrum to build a dual-use commercial and emergency response network, with priority network use for police and fire departments. Frontline is asking the FCC to require "open access" rules, allowing wireless and broadband providers across the country to buy wholesale access to the network.