Late last week, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced the results of its 700Mhz auction of wireless licenses. It also revealed that the auction raised USD$19.59 billion for the government-owned spectrum. Among the winners, Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T came out on top. Verizon (in a joint venture with Vodafone Group Plc) spent USD$9.63-billion for 108 licenses, including the nationwide “C” block. AT&T spent USD$6.64 billion to win 227 licenses in the “B” block.
The auction was for airwaves that are currently used for analog TV. With the U.S. completing its conversion to digital broadcasting next year, the FCC set up the auction to find new owners and use for these frequencies. These also have the desirable characteristic of being able to penetrate buildings better than current cellular service.
The “C” block auction came with the requirement that it be accessible to any device or software application. The open-access requirement was pushed by Google who did participate in the auction but failed to win any licenses for itself.