Baker leaves door open on D Block auction

Republican Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Meredith Attwell Baker is open to supporting a D Block auction.

Such an auction would raise funds for a national mobile broadband network for public safety officials by selling off a valuable block of airwaves to commercial providers. 

The proposal was floated in FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's national broadband plan last year but quickly drew the ire of police and fire groups who would prefer the D Block is devoted directly to public safety.

"I think both models work," Baker said in an interview for C-SPAN's "The Communicators" series on Thursday.

The top Democrats on the commerce panels split on the issue, with Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.) endorsing the auction in a draft bill, while Sen. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va) did not include it in his spectrum legislation.

"[The D Block] has been a really vexing problem for us," Baker said. "If there was one right answer, we would've moved forward with it…The policeman, the first responders deserve a network."

The nation's two largest wireless carriers, Verizon and AT&T, oppose the auction, because it shrinks their chance of controlling those airwaves. 

House Republicans have indicated they might include the D Block auction a spectrum bill this year.