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700MHz Auction Winners Revealed

3/21/2008 01:47:00 PM Eastern

Washington — Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless and EchoStar’s Frontier Wireless were among the big winners of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) 700MHz spectrum auction.

Verizon won 25 regional A-block licenses and nationwide C-block spectrum, required by the FCC to be open to devices other than the spectrum winner’s devices. The carrier said its C-block footprint reaches 298 million people and that the other licenses it won reach 171 million people.

AT&T said it won 227 B-block regional licenses covering 100 percent of the top 200 markets. Combined with 1700/2100 Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum previously purchased, AT&T will have spectrum available for new services covering 95 percent of the U.S. population, the carrier said.

Frontier Wireless, whose owners include satellite broadcaster EchoStar and EchoStar chairman Charles Ergen, won 168 E-block licenses to establish a “near-nationwide footprint,” said FCC chairman Kevin Martin. EchoStar’s spectrum, analysts said, would be difficult to use for two-way services and would be better-suited for a one-way service, perhaps a mobile-DTV service.

Qualcomm and Cox also won licenses. Google did not.

“One thing is clear,” Google said in a statement. “Although Google didn't pick up any spectrum licenses, the auction produced a major victory for American consumers. We congratulate the winners and look forward to a more open wireless world. As a result of the auction, consumers whose devices use the C Block of spectrum soon will be able to use any wireless device they wish, and download to their devices any applications and content they wish.”

The FCC’s Martin also thought consumers a winner. “A bidder other than a nationwide incumbent won a license in every market,” he said. “As a result of the 700MHz auction, there is a potential for an additional wireless “third pipe” in every market across the nation.”  In addition, he said, 99 bidders other than nationwide incumbents won 754 licenses, or about 69 percent of the 1,090 licenses sold.

Martin also considered small business a winner because 56 percent of the 214 qualified bidders and 55 percent of the 101 winning bidders “claimed designated entity bidding credits as small businesses.” They won 379, or 35 percent, of the 1,090 licenses won, he added.

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