updated 09:25 am EST, Wed February 6, 2008
700MHz Likely for Verizon
Second-largest cellular provider Verizon is most likely to have secured the desirable "C" block wireless space in the FCC's 700MHz auction, according to reports from those tracking the industry. Although key player Google is likely to have bid at least $4.6 billion to trigger requirements for open access to any device or software that might run on a future 700MHz wireless network, the Android developer is unlikely to have continued bidding past that point, instead letting its closest rival Verizon produce a higher bid for the "C" block's national access. This would let Google achieve its objective of an open platform for wireless devices without having to actually commit the money necessary for a winning bid, experts say. Google is now believed to instead be mulling an alliance with Yahoo to help fend off Microsoft's hostile takeover bid for Yahoo.
Verizon is also believed to have bid a higher total amount for local licenses than for the "C" block, ensuring that the latter is split among bidders rather than given wholesale to the top bid. Much of this is believed to stem from a desire to close the gap in licensed spectrum between the carrier and its chief opponent AT&T, which just yesterday received federal approval of its deal with Aloha that grants the company a separate block of 700MHz space not subject to the open access rules of the FCC auction. Verizon late last year pledged an open access policy that would allow devices and software sold by other companies to run on its networks regardless of their frequencies.
No matter the winner, the FCC auction is expected to result in a new wide-area calling or Internet access service that would take advantage of the longer range and indoors suitability of 700MHz frequencies. Any such network would be launched no earlier than February 2009, when the airwaves are ceded by analog over-the-air TV broadcasts.