wireless towerEighteen companies with 600 MHz auction rural bidding credits are among the 69 companies on the bidder list of companies approved to participate in the upcoming auction of TV broadcast spectrum, which will be repurposed to support mobile broadband. An additional 35 network operators have applied to bid in the auction but must resubmit their applications by April 6 in order to be approved for participation.  The FCC, which released the bidder lists late Friday, did not indicate which of the operators on the incomplete application list also have requested rural bidding credits.

Some larger companies plan to bid under unfamiliar names, making it difficult to devise a definitive list of participants. But according to the Wall Street Journal, carriers planning to bid include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Comcast and Dish Network (post continues after ad).

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Thirty-six companies on the complete applications list received small business bidding credits.

600 MHz Auction Rural Bidding Credits
Small network operators that receive 600 MHZ auction rural bidding credits will be able to bid at rates 15% higher than the companies will actually have to pay for spectrum. To qualify, companies had to have fewer than 250,000 subscribers and serve largely rural areas. The credits a rural carrier can receive are capped at $10 million.

Several Verizon LTE in Rural America (LRA) partners are on the list of approved 600 MHz auction participants, including Chariton Valley Telephone, Cellcom (bidding as Nsight Spectrum LLC), and Triangle Communication Systems.

At last count, Verizon’s LRA program included 21 rural carriers, who have built out LTE service in areas where Verizon has not built its own network. The carriers have been able to use the same equipment that Verizon does and lease spectrum from Verizon for build-outs. LRA partner plans to participate in the auction suggest that they anticipate higher future traffic levels than their current spectrum alone can support.

Of the LRA partners planning to bid in the 600 MHz auction, all but Nsight received rural bidding credits, according to the material provided by the FCC. Nsight may have too many customers to qualify for the credits.

The participation of the LRA partners indicates that they remain among the stronger small rural wireless providers at a time when it has become increasingly challenging for small operators to compete in a market in which scale is increasingly important.

The full list of companies approved for rural services provider bidding credits includes:

  • Agri-Valley Communications
  • Chariton Valley Telephone
  • CWW Corporation
  • East Kentucky Network LLC
  • Farmers Telephone Cooperative
  • Mutual Telephone Company of Sioux Center, Iowa
  • NEIT Services LLC
  • PBP Corporation
  • Pine Cellular Phones
  • Plateau Telecommunications
  • Polar Communications Mutual Aid Corporation
  • Sagebrush Cellular
  • Smith Bagley Inc.
  • Panhandle Telecommunications Systems
  • Pioneer-Nex-Tech Wireless-Rural Tel Consortium
  • Triangle Communication Systems
  • Union Telephone Company
  • WCTA Wireless

A complete list of all approved bidders can be found here. Would-be bidders with incomplete applications can be found here.