On Tuesday, the FCC announced that 214 entities had qualified to participate in the 700 MHz auction that is scheduled to begin on January 28. Covering spectrum that will be reclaimed from analog television broadcasters as part of the digital television transition, the auction for broadband wireless licenses is expected to rank as one of the FCC’s largest competitive bidding events ever, with estimated proceeds of between $10 and $15 billion. As anticipated, the final list of bidders includes Google and Vulcan Spectrum, a venture led by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Both entities appeared on the FCC’s initial list of accepted applications published late last month. Entities that had applications returned last month for minor corrections and that are now deemed as qualified include Verizon Wireless (filing under the name of Cellco Partnership), AT&T, EchoStar (filing as Frontier Wireless), Cox Communications, MetroPCS, Qualcomm, Alltel, and Chevron USA. Subsidiaries of Cablevision, Advance/Newhouse Communications, and Leap Wireless also appeared on the final list of qualified bidders. The remaining 52 applicants, including Frontline Wireless, were deemed unqualified as a result of their failure to cure defects in their applications or to submit required down payments on January 4. Frontline had successfully lobbied the FCC to set aside the 700 MHz D-block for a nationwide broadband network to be shared by commercial and public safety entities and had been expected to bid on that license. Although Frontline’s troubles in raising enough funding to meet the FCC’s $1.3 billion reserve price have cast new doubts on whether a successful bidder will emerge to claim the D-block license, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said, “we’re still optimistic someone will come forward and be willing to take on that burden of trying to serve public safety.”
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FCC issues final list of qualified bidders for 700 MHz auction
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