FCC announces names of 700MHz wireless auction bidders

20 Dec 2007

The US telecoms regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday published the names of applicants wishing to bid in the much-anticipated January auction of wireless spectrum in the 700MHz band. Among the 266 names listed a few come as no surprise: Google, which earlier this year said earlier this year made it clear it was willing to pay up to USD4.6 billion for licences in the ‘C’ block of spectrum, has thrown its hat in the ring along with cable operator Cablevision Systems, mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, satellite TV provider EchoStar and telcos AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless. However many of the other names to make the regulator’s original 3 December deadline are far less well known, such as GreenFly LLC, Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative Inc, Vulcan Spectrum (backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) and Guam Cellular & Paging. Another company raising eyebrows over its desire to be involved in the telecoms sector is Chevron USA.

A total of 96 applicants have thus far been approved, while 170 companies including AT&T, Verizon and MetroPCS have been marked as having incomplete applications for undisclosed reasons by the FCC. The deadline for submitting applications has been extended to 4 January. The auction, scheduled to begin on 24 January, could raise as much as USD15 billion for the US Treasury. It will comprise five blocks of spectrum, with the ‘C’ block in particular, expected to fetch considerable sums because of its size and its ability to penetrate obstacles, which means it could be used to establish a next generation, high speed data network.