We’re up to $6 billion in bids for the coveted 700 Mhz spectrum, with round 9 to begin this morning. Through eight rounds, there are 967 provisional winning bids for licenses, with 960 provisional winning bidders. Most of the attention is on the C block which has attracted a bid of $2,976,465,000 at the end of round eight. The C block can be won as a single nationwide license, or can be broken into several regional licenses, depending on the winning bids. The regional licenses overtook the one national license in earlier rounds, but by the end of round eight, the single national license was back on top in the lead position. We don’t know who’s bidding, but safe bets are it’s one of three parties – Verizon, AT&T, or Google. The D block which also a nationwide license, but has a public safety network build out mandate attached to it is languishing. It’s received a single bid of $472 million, well below the FCC reserve price of $1.3 billion. If the reserve price is not met, the FCC will likely re-auction that spectrum at a later date without the mandates.
There is plenty of action in the A and B blocks. Unless Google (or some other entity that comes “out of left field”) wins the C block and builds a nationwide competitive network, the A and B spectrum block winners will probably have the most impact on the competitive landscape. Bids run the range from a low of $6,900 for the Johnson, Tennessee market B block, to a high of $298 million for the New York City market A block. A and B winners will be in a position to launch competitive broadband wireless networks on a regional and local level across the U.S. The “open” provision of the C block, assuming it remains intact, should add some competitive salt as well. While not necessarily adding competitive carriers, it could spur a wave of innovation and empower a variety of new applications and features which may impact the competitive landscape.
Keep track of the auction at the FCC auction 73 website.