Former Motorola exec backs airwaves auction

* No technical impediments to sharing network -Roberson

* FCC chief says timing can save costs

WASHINGTON, Aug 25 (BestGrowthStock) – A former top Motorola Inc
(MOT.N: ) executive supports auctioning a chunk of wireless
airwaves highly sought after by public safety officials,
putting himself at odds with his former company.

Dennis Roberson, a former chief technology officer at
Motorola, a supplier of wireless equipment to customers such as
emergency response services, said auctioning the so-called D
block to companies such as T-Mobile USA, who paid for his
analytical study, is the best way to build an interoperable
broadband communications network for first responders.

“There are no technical impediments to providing public
safety users immediate access to commercial networks during
periods when the network is at capacity,” Roberson said in a
filing with the Federal Communications Commission, dated Aug.
24.

His study, which was funded by T-Mobile USA, a unit of
Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE: ), is the latest maneuver in the
tussle over who should control and access the D block.

But Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola backs public safety
groups trying to block an auction. Public safety groups want
the D block for themselves and do not want to rely on
commercial operators opening up the network during an
emergency.

The spectrum has become the object of a tug-of-war among
wireless companies, public safety groups, lawmakers and
regulators at the FCC who have reassured police and
firefighters they will have access to the airwaves if there is
another disaster akin to the September 11 attacks or Hurricane
Katrina.

“With an appropriate FCC regulatory framework that would
require sharing of spectrum during times of emergency, a robust
system that serves both public safety and commercial users can
be realized,” Roberson said.

Roberson is currently vice provost and research professor
with the Illinois Institute of Technology.

T-Mobile USA, the No. 4 U.S. mobile operator, and top FCC
officials favor auctioning the D block, a leftover of the 1998
spectrum auction which generated about $19 billion in proceeds
for the U.S. government.

T-Mobile USA is seeking more spectrum to beef up its
wireless data services and keep up to speed with its much
bigger rivals AT&T Inc (T.N: ) and Verizon Wireless, a venture of
Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N: ) and Vodafone Group Plc
(VOD.L: ).

AT&T and Verizon have thrown their support behind the
public safety groups, who also have the backing of Senate
Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller.

But some FCC officials are urging public safety groups to
work with wireless companies during the build-out of that area
of the spectrum for advanced wireless technology called 4G in
order to minimize costs.

At an event in Minnesota on Tuesday to discuss the National
Broadband Plan, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said there
would be significant cost savings if a public safety network is
built out now with the wireless companies.

“We can save lives and save money if we move quickly,” he
said.
(Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Matthew Lewis)

Former Motorola exec backs airwaves auction