The FCC has posted the final list of qualified bidders for the auction of 700 MHz spectrum, which starts on January 24.
The wireless spectrum licenses being auctioned, valued at an estimated total of $15 billion dollars, provide enough new radio space for up to ten new nationwide wireless networks, or four nationwide and dozens or even hundreds of regional providers.
Due to the combination of long range and high bandwidth present in the 700 MHz band, it is considered ideal for applications of high-speed data and Internet service. The most desired property in the auction is the "C" block, a pair of nationwide licenses that are expected to start at a minimum price of $4.6 billion dollars.
Major corporate bidders include Google, Cox, Alltel, Verizon Wireless, Chevron, and AT&T, along with over 200 local telephone companies, startups, wireless Internet providers, and venture groups, stretching from Maine to Guam.
The bidder list totals 214 entities, competing over four nationwide licenses and six thousand regional ones. Each area in the United States and and its territories is covered by ten different licenses, each of which will be independently available. Bidding in the auction will be anonymous to maximize competition.
Actual Networks Not for a Year
Although companies may begin testing and deployment, no networks will actually be operational on the new spectrum at least until April 7, 2009. This is when the analog TV channels that are currently using these frequencies will be shut down and moved to digital spectrum.