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News | 04/03/2002 5:00 am EST

FCC to refund money from spectrum auction
The Federal Communications Commission has decided to refund a "substantial portion" of down payments made by winning bidders in a spectrum auction of licences previously awarded to NextWave Personal Communications Inc., NextWave Power Partners Inc. and Urban Comm-North Carolina Inc. The decision follows a petition made in January by a coalition of winning bidders. The FCC will return approximately US$2.8 billion or 85 per cent of the down payments currently held. Despite returning the down payments, the commission will maintain the status of the applications and preserve the results and integrity of the auction. In auction No. 35, the FCC had net bids totalling US$16.3 billion and collected down payments of approximately US$3.3 billion. It its decision the FCC writes: "The commission found that petitioners, many of whom are small businesses, may require access to their funds to continue to operate their business." In other FCC news, the commission will soon vote on a Verizon Wireless petition asking the FCC to drop wireless local number portability (LNP) entirely. However, proponents of wireless LNP say that ensuring number portability for wireless consumers may actually slow down the shrinking supply of 10-digit numbers. New U.S. government reports estimate that the United States, Canada, Guam, Bermuda and Trinidad will run out of 10-digit numbers by 2025.

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