updated 09:35 pm EDT, Tue March 18, 2008
700MHz bid ends
The 700MHz FCC-led wireless auction today ended with an estimated revenue of $20 billion, says Molly Peterson of Bloomberg.com. While the FCC hasn't disclosed the actual winner of the auction, this brings a close to a nearly two month long bidding war between 214 companies, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Google. Analysts for the FCC expected the auction to raise between $10- to $15 billion.
The 700MHz band is soon to be abandoned by over-the-air TV providers in 2009, when the federal government will enact a bill requiring all providers to switch to a digital broadcasting medium. The band is currently occupied by analogue wireless television broadcasts. The bid was originally conceived to combat wireless monopolies by larger telcos, since it would make it increasingly difficult for newcomers to open up shop.
One segment of the band did not sell, entitled D-block, as the highest bid for the public-safety-reserved frequencies topped off at $472 million, nearly a third of the reserve price of $1.3 billion. The FCC is now constructing a new plan for selling the block, and is considering a separate auction so that winners may be announced for the other segments.
Bids on the other airwave segments typically topped government expectations, with the largest bid (C-block) coming in at $4.74 billion. The C-block winner must agree to a stipulation to allow other legit mobile devices to function on the network. Google, along with several consumer-advocacy groups, pushed for this ruling.
The 700MHz band will allow companies to deploy a 4G network infrastructure using a "clean slate".