700MHz auction ends; D-Block fails to sell

19 Mar 2008

The US government’s auction of 700MHz spectrum has finally completed after 261 rounds of bidding in eight weeks, raising USD19.6 billion in the process. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has still to announce when the list of winning bidders will be released, with bidding having been anonymous throughout the auction process. The FCC’s chairman, Kevin Martin, has hailed the spectrum auction as a success, with one portion of airwaves having met the minimum bid which means it will now be operated under open access rules. The sale was also a financial success for the government, having originally been expected to raise between USD10 billion and USD13 billion, though winning bidders will now be saddled with hefty licence fees which are likely to be passed on to consumers via higher tariffs. One negative point for the government was the failure to sell the D-Block of spectrum, which has been set aside for a national public safety communications network; just one bid was received for this block and this was well below the USD1.3 billion reserve price. The government has still to decide what it will do with the 10MHz band of frequencies. Spectrum will not be available until February next year at the earliest.

United States, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)