700MHz: $6.1B & counting

Jan 29, 2008 5:03 am

From Daily Wireless:
The FCC’s 700 MHz spectrum auction saw a pair of bidding rounds that brought the total potential winning bids climb to just over $4.4 billion, after round six, and $6.1 billion after round eight. Highlights included continued interest in the regional grouping of C-Block licenses, a lack of new bids for the floundering national commercial-public safety D-Block license and the first withdrawal from the proceedings.

The auction closed Monday with $6.1 billion in Provisional Winning Bids. The 50-state, eight-license C band garnered $2.9 billion. The package of eight licenses remained the crown jewel of the event, says RCR wireless News, with one new bid during the earlier round five bid pushing the bidding to $2.15 billion.

The $2.9 billion for the “C Block” is more than half-way to the $4.6 billion reserve price that would trigger the open-access provision of the licenses. Google was a proponent of the open-access provision, and said it would bid at least that amount for the C Block.

“Our interpretation of the C Block activity suggests that there are only two bidders, most likely Google and Verizon Wireless, and we are a skeptical that either would move over to the D Block,” said analyst firm Stifel Nicolaus in a research note after round five. “It is also possible that there is only a single bidder for the C Block, increasing its bid each round, perhaps Google to trigger the reserve.”

The D band, which is allocated for public safety services, is lagging far behind with only $472 million bid so far. The reserve set by the FCC is $1.3 billion. A total of 62 MHz will be auctioned; 30 Mhz in the Lower 700MHz band, 32 Mhz in the Upper 700MHz band. RCR News and Blog Runner have more.