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ABI: 700MHz Bidding Exceeds Expectations

2/07/2008 08:22:00 AM Eastern

New York — Total bids for 700MHz spectrum in the current spectrum auction so far exceed $18.9 billion, more than the Federal Communications Commission’s expected $10 billion to $15 billion take, said ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com).

The auction could be the last opportunity for new wireless carriers to break into the wireless market. Such companies include Google, Vulcan Spectrum, Tower Stream and Cox, ABI said.

“700 MHz provides better propagation characteristics than 850 MHz, 1,900 MHz, 2,100 MHz and higher-frequency spectrums,” said ABI senior analyst Nadine Manjaro. Cable companies, she pointed out, can utilize this spectrum by launching their own mobile broadband networks — thereby alleviating the need to rely on wireless operators. But Google draws the most speculation, since the company’s entrance into the wireless market could significantly change the wireless industry.

Incumbent carriers such as AT&T and Verizon, however, would use the spectrum “to strengthen 4G deployments; and 700 MHz will improve rural and in-building coverage at a lower cost than existing frequencies,” she added.

Beginning in 2009, she concluded, “the 700 MHz auction could alter wireless broadband services in the United States and abroad. Google’s interest in the C block influenced Verizon’s decision to open up access to its network, just as Apple’s introduction of the iPhone stirred up the cellphone market. If Google or Microsoft, via Vulcan Spectrum, secures the C block spectrum it could change the whole industry.”

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