700 MHz Auction: Round 3

The new bids are in, and the D-block public safety band has yet to attract another bid since the opening round. Its opening bid of $472 millionis still far below the $1.3 billion reserve price set by the FCC. The auction is still far from over, but the more rounds go by without the license being bid, the more worried the FCC and the public safety community may become that their long-dreamed of national emergency network won’t have a commercial backer. As Current Analysis’ Bill Ho told usfor anearlier post, such a predicament could be awfully embarassing for the public safety community.

Conversely the C-block bidding is chugging along at a steady pace. The package of 8 regional licenses covering all 50 states has received a bid in each of the three rounds, and is now up to $1.49 billion, up $250 million from Round 2. The FCC is keeping the bidders identities secret in this auction so there’s no way for us, nor the bidders, to know whom they’re up against, but the likely candidates are AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Google.

It still questionable whether Google really wants to win these liceneses, but it has a definite interest in ensuring that the open access provisions the FCC attached to the spectrum remain intact. The C Block has a reserve price of $4.6 billion, which if not met could result in the open-access provisions being stripped, the spectrum reauctioned and possiblydividedinto its 8 component regional blocks. Therefore, it may be in Google’s interests to bid the spectrum up to the $4.6 billion reserve price and then not-so-graciously exit the auction. That would really chap Verizon’s hide.

For complete bidding results, see the FCC’s Auction 73 page.And for more details about theintricacies ofthe 700 MHzauction and bandscheck out Telephony’s Webcast on the subject.

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