Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on March 20, 2008
The Federal Communication Commission has released the results of the 700 MHz spectrum auctions and, as expected, AT&T and Verizon Wireless were the big buyers.
As was observed during the course of the auction, the serious bidders adopted a strategy of assembling big swaths of coverage buy bidding on local and regional licenses rather than the national offerings. AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC was the winning bidder of 227 licenses, offering a total of $6.6 billion. Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, went for fewer but bigger licenses, winning 109 blocks for a total of $9.9 billion.
Missing entirely from the list of winner bidders was Google. It was widely speculated early in the auction that Google bid just enough to make sure that the total would surpass the minimum required to trigger the FCC’s open access requirements for the big “C” block of spectrum, then dropped out. It looks like the speculation was right on.
The FCC will have to decide what to do with one big license where the bidding didn’t get close to the $519 million minimum price. The “D” block was subject to complex rules that required the winner to turn the spectrum over to public safety agencies during emergencies. Only one bidder, now revealed to be Qualcomm, showed interest in the block but offered only $472 million.