FCC’s 700 MHz Spectrum Auction Ends with $19.6 Billion in Bids

The FCC’s auction for its potentially very lucrative 700 MHz slice of wireless spectrum in the United States has come to a close today.  Although the FCC will be keeping the winners of the auction under wraps for an unknown amount of time (including the winner of the highly sought-after open access C-block, which closed at $4.75 billion alone), it is known that bids placed have totalled $19.6 billion USD.  This figure exceeds the government’s expectations for the auction, which fell between $10 billion and $15 billion.

While the winners still remain a mystery, it is known that AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Google all took part in the historically profitable auction.  Rumors and a report over at Engadget Mobile have suggested that Verizon Wireless may have come away with the C-block, while many optimistic community members are still holding onto hope that Google was the winner. Regardless of who won, the auction’s greater than $4.6 billion closing price has enacted a requirement that the winner allow any compatibile device to operate on its new network, no matter who the device’s manufacturer is. This enforcement brings promising implications for wireless customers in the United States who have found themselves fed up with current device restrictions amongst carriers, and could also facilitate greater competition between device manufacturers.

A total of 1,099 licenses were available in this auction. The FCC’s imposed minimum bid of $1.3 billion for the public safety D-block was not met, with the highest bid coming to $472 million. It has not been disclosed how the FCC will end up selling the D-block at this time.

Source: Bloomberg