The much discussed, debated and awaited 700mhz spectrum auction has come to a close and the winners have been announced. While Google didn’t fork over any money to own spectrum space, Android walked away with a monumental victory.
The auction is known as “Auction 73” and was made possible by the government forced transition from analog television to digital television. This frees up bandwidth in the MHz and that became “up for grabs” with mobile carriers becoming the obvious suitors.
Since the foreseeable future doesn’t have any RF spectrum vacancy on the horizon, Auction 73 has generated an insane amount of interest – the winners of this auction series would have a competitive advantage for years to come.
The FCC was concerned about the potential collusion, so bidders have faced stringent guidelines as to what they could and could not discuss about the auction until the winners were announced. We know there were 214 bidders… and now we know who won.
The largest and most coveted piece of the auction pie was Block C, which had a reserve price of $4.64 Billion Dollars. Because of its sheer size, the winner of this auction would have an FCC imposed commitment to creating an open-access network allowing any device that passes the basic standards and requirements to access the network.
Sounds like the type of thing Google Android would benefit from… right? Unfortunately for the Big G, if the reserve price of $4.64 Billion Dollars was not met, the open access restrictions would be removed from Block C and a new auction would take place.
Rumor has it that Google’s participation in the auction was nothing more than a bluff. They supposedly bid on the Block C spectrum with the intent of pushing the eventual winner over the Reserve price. A win for Google meant keeping the largest open block of mobile spectrum, which would inevitably be used to fuel future growth in the wireless industry, to an open-network format that would ensure Android handsets and others would have equal opportunity to enjoy it’s growth.
Well played, Google.
Don’t think that Verizon wasn’t a huge winner here as well. When it comes down to actual spectrum winners, Verizon walked away with the biggest prize. They are currently the number 2 mobile carrier in the United States and this victory puts them in prime position to take over the #1 spot over the next decade. And do you think the “Open Network” idea really bothers them? They just announced that they would be opening their wireless service to phones purchased from a wide variety of manufactures who passed basic handset requirements. For not being in the Open Handset Alliance, Verizon sure has done a lot to help fuel the future success of Android in recent days.
The spectrum auction is essentially selling thin air… what exactly does it mean to the winners and consumers? Well, after saying they were “pleased” with the results, Verizon bragged that they would score a massive 298 million person footprint, plus another 171 million worth of licenses in different Blocks. That should go a long way in solidifying their reputation as the nation’s most reliable wireless network.
AT&T, meanwhile, picked up Block B in the auction which they were happy to add to their already industry leading portfolio. There was also decent sized Blocks A and D while the Block E was much, much smaller than the other four up for grabs.
Another interesting development is that DishTV apparently picked up a chunk of the pie. What could a television provider be using mobile spectrum for? Can you say “Wireless TV”?
While the FCC is still imposing restrictions on what the auction participants are allowed to disclose, here are a look at the press releases from the 3 big winners: