Wednesday, 30 January 2008 07:26

Some 700MHz bids creep up, others flounder

While bidding for the C block in the current US 700MHz spectrum auction has crept up to nearly $US3.8 billion, some other licences are languishing.

The minimum C block bid in this round was over $US3.4 billion, and the FCC received one new bid of almost $US3.8 billion. Bidders in the next round will need to stump up nearly $US4.3 billion, still short of the $US4.6 billion threshold that will ensure customers are free to use whichever devices and services they choose.

The other nationwide licence - the D block - has still only attracted one bid. THe licence requires the winner to build a national network that will deliver services to public safety services as well as commercial customers. The bid of $US472 million falls well short of the minimum price of $US1.3 billion. If an acceptable bid is not received, the FCC may start a new auction for the D block, possibly with different terms or a lower minimum price, but there are reportedly no specific plans at this stage.

The most competition for the various local licences appears to be in San Antonio. As with the C block, there have already been 12 rounds of bidding - but 12 new bids were received in round 12, pushing the price up to $US6.84 million. Eight new bids were received for each of Phoenix, San Jose, Omaha, and Las Vegas.

No new bids were received for hundreds of local licences. Some look like going for a song, which may be good news for co-operatives and other local organisations hoping to provide wireless services to their rural neighbourhoods. For example, the Louisiana 9 B block licence covering Plaquemines has attracted a single bid of $US9,600.

The Puerto Rico 7 licence covering Culebra has gone through eleven rounds (showing there is competition), but the high bid has only reached $US2400.

All told, the latest round has added just 10.5 percent to the total being offered for the licences, which now stands at $US8.66 billion.

Round 13 of the auction will commence later today (Wednesday).

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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