[opendtv] FCC Spectrum Auction Draws $2.4 Billion In Bids In First Round

  • From: "John Shutt" <shuttj@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "OpenDTV" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 17:40:55 -0500

How much did the Government want to get from the Spectrum Auction?



FCC Spectrum Auction Draws $2.4 Billion In Bids In First Round


WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The first round of the much-anticipated Federal Communications Commission auction of communications airwaves drew $2.4 billion in prospective bids before closing at midday Thursday, according to the agency.

Nearly half the money, some $1.04 billion, was bid by one participant seeking a national license for a swath of 22 megahertz of radio spectrum. The bidding for a second national license of 10 megahertz topped out at $472 million in the first round. Both these bids are believed to be the minimum bid allowed in the first round for these chunks of spectrum.

The information was released on a Website set up by the FCC to release auction results. The auction rules state that no information will be released as to how many bidders are vying for each license or who the bidders are.

Minimum bids of $1.25 billion and $543 million in the second round have been set by the FCC for the two national licenses, known as the C-block and D-block, respectively. Before each round, the agency will set minimum bids.

The auction of 62 megahertz of prized radio spectrum to the commercial wireless industry is the first time the "blind bidding" rules have been instituted by the regulator.

A list of approved bidders released by the FCC includes large incumbent players in the wireless industry, including Verizon Wireless, which is owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group PLC (VOD), as well as potential newcomer Google Inc. (GOOG). Other bidders include Alltel Corp., which was recently taken private by Goldman Sachs (GS) and TPG Capital LP; privately owned Cox Communications; Echostar Communications Inc. (DISH); and a venture owned by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen.

The FCC sale is possible due to a move by television broadcasters from analog to digital signals next year, which require far less spectrum.

The airwaves being sold are some of the most powerful to ever come available to wireless carriers. They can transmit across vast distances and through buildings, making them highly sought after by wireless companies.

According to official government estimates, the auction is expected to raise around $10 billion when it is completed.

Winners in the auction will use the airwaves they acquire to build networks to support the next generation of wireless broadband service known as fourth generation, or 4G service.

The majority of the 1,009 licenses being sold by the FCC are local or regional ones that will likely be bought by smaller companies seeking to bolster wireless service in local markets. But most of the attention will be on the C-block and D-block licenses.

A second round of the auction is taking place Thursday afternoon. After that, the sale will proceed at the rate of three rounds a day, beginning Friday, until a winner emerges for all the licenses.

An auction in 2006 took more than 100 rounds to complete, so it could be several weeks before this auction is completed.

-By Corey Boles, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-6637; corey.boles@xxxxxxxxxxxx

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