For those of you playing along at home, the Federal Communication Commission’s 700 MHz spectrum bidding reached an important milestone today: The FCC received a bid of $4.71 billion, surpassing the $4.68 billion minimum and setting in motion events that could have profound changes on the U.S. wireless industry.
With the minimum now achieved, the winner must abide by the “open access” rules the FCC agreed to last summer, meaning that the winner will have to allow consumers to use any handset or software application on the spectrum purchased.
Funny, but no one is celebrating in the streets outside.
Anyway, who made the $4.71 billion bid remains a mystery. There’s plenty of speculation all over the Web (here, here, here), but Saul Hansell of The New York Times seems to have the best grasp of what’s going on. Suffice to say, early analysis has Verizon, the No. 2 U.S. carrier, and newcomer Google punching it out for the coveted C Block, with No.1 carrier AT&T in the mix somewhere.
Without full media access, the 700 MHz spectrum auction is a game of pure speculation because the participants — and for our purpose that’s Google, Verizon, and AT&T — cannot talk about their bids until the auction is over, whenever that will be.
Suffice to say, by reaching the open access milestone, a new market has just been launched. For those scoring at home, put a “W” next to consumers, handset manufacturers, and third-party software developers and a ? next to Google, Verizon, and AT&T.