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Minimum Price for FCC's Airwaves Met

A bid this morning on a coveted portion of the wireless airwaves up for auction by the Federal Communications Commission met the agency's minimum target price, which could mean success for a drive to create a nationwide network that would be open to any device or software to work on that spectrum.

The so-called C block, one of several on the block in the 700-mHz frequency, has been eyed by Verizon Wireless, Google, and AT&T. In the first round of bidding on its sixth day of the auction, a bid for $4.7 billion met the commission's reserve price of $4.64 billion.

Bidding is anonymous and the winner won't revealed until the end of the entire auction, which could run through the end of February, some analysts say. But speculation has been rife that Verizon Wireless or Google have the most interest in the block of airwaves and are among the only companies that have the cash to buy the spectrum and build it out.

Their objectives, however, may differ. In just one of several possible scenarios, some analysts speculate that Google, which has been pushing for an "open network" that would give consumers more control over the kinds of devices and software they choose to use, may have pushed Verizon Wireless to place the final bid so that the Internet-search company doesn't have to build out the network. Another theory is that Verizon Wireless placed the $4.7 billion bid so that it could wrest control over what would be the only nationwide open network and making sure that the network was built out in an a way that doesn't compete with their DSL and cable operations.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is speaking to press at 1 p.m. EST. The auction, which in total has exceeded so far its minimum reserve target of $10 billion, has been a mixed bag in terms of success. While price targets may be met, a public safety block looks unlikely.

---Cecilia Kang

By  |  January 31, 2008; 12:12 PM ET  | Category:  Guest contributor
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