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FCC spectrum auction bids approach $20bn

07 марта 2008

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission's closely-watched spectrum auction Thursday showed further signs it is winding down, with just 12 bids recorded in round 168.

As bids approached the $20 billion mark, the watchdog Tuesday moved to speed up the process by transitioning the auction to 'stage 3', which involved shortening the amount of time each round lasts to 15 minutes.

Stage 3 also includes increasing the frequency at which bidding rounds take place to every half hour, and raising the number of rounds to 10 per day.

"The FCC will set the pace of the auction based upon monitoring of the bidding activity and its assessment of the auction's progress," said an official FCC statement.

The move comes less than a week after the FCC attempted to usher on the auction by moving on to stage 2, which increased the number of bidding rounds per day to eight, up from six rounds at the beginning of February.

The total value of the bids has reached $19.58 billion, well above the high end of the FCC's estimate of $15 billion, however just $194,000 was committed by participants in the last round.

So far 1,089 of the 1,099 licences on offer have received provisionally winning bids, with 10 currently remaining in the hands of the FCC.

Bids on the two national licences, C-Block and D-Block, were unchanged in the most recent round. In fact, no more bids for C-Block have been submitted since it reached $4.71 billion, breaching the FCC's $4.6 billion threshold for the application of open access conditions.

The controversial D-Block licence, which stipulated that the licensee build out and share a wireless network with emergency services, has still received just one $472 million bid throughout the whole process.

The FCC placed a reserve of $1.3 billion that would have to be reached in order for the 10 megahertz chunk of D-Block spectrum to be awarded.

Frontline Wireless, the only realistic bidder for the licence, withdrew from the auction before it even started because it lacked the capital to meet the regulatory requirements.

Still, FCC chairman Kevin Martin in February talked up the progress of the airwave sale.

"This is an important transformation in the wireless industry," he told a recent press conference.

However, Martin did not detail any plans the FCC might have in the event D-Block remained unsold.

Auction 73 is being closely watched following widespread talk that Internet giant Google was planning to participate in the auction.

Yet the FCC ruled that the identities of the bidders will remain anonymous until the close of the auction, a decision that has led to intense speculation of who exactly will emerge victorious.

It is widely accepted that only the country's big players, such as Verizon Wireless or AT&T, have the experience and the resources to submit a large enough bid, and meet the watchdog's requirements.

In total the FCC is auctioning 62 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, which will be a made available when U.S. TV broadcasters next year switch from analogue to digital.

Источник: Total Telecom

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