Cyren Call might bid in 700 MHz auction
Cyren Call Chairman Morgan O’Brien has said his company will consider bidding in the 700 MHz auction, depending on the rules the FCC adopts for the spectrum, a company spokesman told MRT today.
O’Brien made the statement last week while participating on a panel, Cyren Call spokesman Tim O’Regan said.
“Morgan was asked whether we would potentially participate in an auction, if it came to it, for this license,” O’Regan said. “We were pretty clear and said, ‘Absolutely.’ That is a possibility open to us. It may not be the preferred path, but we would not rule out the possibility of ourselves bidding.”
More than a year ago, O’Brien unveiled Cyren Call’s proposal to establish a public-private partnership to build a public-safety grade network on 30 MHz of commercial spectrum currently earmarked for an auction set to begin by late January 2008. Cyren Call had hoped to win a competitive bidding process to serve as manager for the national public-safety licensee under its proposal.
During the past few months, the notion of a public-private partnership building a nationwide broadband network has gained momentum, with Frontline Wireless offering a proposal that would utilize 10 MHz of commercial spectrum and 12 MHz of public-safety spectrum in the band. The Frontline proposal is one of several items being considered by the FCC in an accelerated proceeding in which comments are due on May 23 and reply comments are due on May 30.
In a release yesterday, Frontline Wireless stated that O’Brien indicated that “Cyren Call’s plan … is not a real-world solution to public safety’s challenges.” O’Regan vehemently denied that O’Brien made any such statement, stating that Frontline’s assertion is “completely inaccurate.”
“They’re attributing that statement for Morgan, and it’s absolutely false,” O’Regan said. “We still believe [the Cyren Call proposal] would provide the best outcome for public safety.”
However, if the FCC and/or Congress opt for a Frontline-like proposal, Cyren Call would be interested in participating in the commercial auction, O’Regan said. In fact, Beltway sources have said that Cyren Call has started exploring financing avenues for a possible auction bid.
Cyren Call officials last week visited the FCC and suggested a proposal similar to Frontline’s plan, in terms of spectrum usage, but with a twist. This alternative Cyren Call proposal would let large incumbent retail wireless carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T participate in the auction for the 10 MHz of commercial spectrum, while the Frontline proposal would require bidders for this spectrum to be open-access, wholesale operators.
“Cyren Call encourages a playing field representing a wide variety of participants, including the incumbent wireless companies,” O’Brien said in a statement released last week. “A broad array of players will ensure the best outcome for public safety and we would encourage the FCC to consider this as they review options for service rules. Any encumbrances on the spectrum must have a positive impact on public safety.”
Frontline CEO Haynes Griffin said public safety would benefit most by partnering with a wholesale carrier that would consider public safety as its primary customer.
“We welcome Mr. O’Brien as a bidding competitor for the E Block spectrum,” Griffin said in a statement released yesterday. “But we trust that the public-safety community will not fall for the suggestion that it would be better off sharing spectrum with a large incumbent carrier whose core strategies are far removed from those of the public-safety community.”
Frontline officials also have noted repeatedly the benefits that a wholesale provider would bring to consumers in terms of fostering competition in the wireless arena.