updated 03:20 pm EDT, Thu March 20, 2008
Verizon 700MHz Wins
Verizon was the winner of the nationwide license for the crucial 700MHz wireless auction as well as most regional licenses, the FCC has revealed. An initial list of winners shows the telecoms giant to have successfully won both the national license as well as 11 out of 12 of the local licenses available for the "C" block that is likely to be used for wireless data. The licenses supply the company with coverage across all of the US and would allow it to launch any future service with few gaps in its network. Only AT&T Mobility has managed to win a major regional "C" block bid for coverage in the Mississippi Valley, according to government documents.
Other airwave blocks were distributed more evenly but included relatively unusual entrants. Companies such as CableVision and Cox were involved in bidding for the less essential but still sought-after "A" and "B" blocks and were joined by more expected entrants such as Frontier Wireless. AT&T and Verizon also claimed a large number of licenses in this space.
The victories establish the groundwork for a future Verizon cellular or Internet network that would use the 700MHz frequency to provide faster and longer-range connections than possible today. Regardless of control, however, the carrier will have to abide by open access rules that require the company to allow any legitimate device and software to run on its network. The rule was instituted in part due to pressure from Google, which pledged at least a $4.6 billion bid to prevent incumbents such as Verizon from insisting on a platform that locked the choices of hardware and software.
Google itself did not win any bids but is believed to have made its own as a symbolic gesture.
The 700MHz frequency is likely to be shared by competing standards for 4G cellular data. Ericsson has developed technology for 700MHz Long Term Evolution, which is most likely to be used by Verizon as well as AT&T. Intel supporters have also proposed 700MHz WiMAX that would shift the wide-area broadband to the new airspace.
No services will launch until at least 2009, when the 700MHz space is dropped by analog over-the-air TV broadcasts.