The upcoming 700 Mhz wireless auction should be quite an interesting affair. The jockeying for rights to bid on this spectrum may be unprecedented. The usual suspects are well entrenched to participate, but a variety of newcomers to the process have let it be known that they should not be denied an opportunity to “play ball.” From a couple of upstarts who say they want to build a new national broadband network, to the cable industry, and maybe even to Google, the 700 Mhz prize is one that everyone has their eye on.
And why shouldn’t they? 700 Mhz represents “beachfront” property in the broadband landscape. Google has even suggested doing away with the FCC auction process, and instituting a new one, based on their Internet advertising auction model. An upstart company, Frontline Wireless suggests that the auction process should be changed as well – changed so that they can build a national network of their own. Another upstart, Cyren, has a similar motivation to Frontline, with one minor detail – they suggest that the spectrum be awarded to them, rather than auctioned. Estimates suggest that should the auction process go through, it could result in anywhere from $10 to $30 billion dollars to the U.S. Treasury. Not enough to pay off the national debt, but a nice “chunk of change.” One thing is for certain, the winners of the spectrum will have the opportunity to do amazing things with wireless broadband and ultimately alter the competitive landscape.