Verizon Wireless wins huge block of 700MHz spectrum

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Verizon
Wireless
has won a nationwide block of spectrum that could be used to create
a wireless data network, the U.S.
Federal Communications Commission
announced Thursday.

Verizon was the winning bidder in the 22MHz band of spectrum called the C block
in the FCC's 700MHz auction, which concluded Tuesday. The company bid US$4.7
billion for the spectrum, which covers nearly all of the U.S., while the high
bids on the entire 700MHz auction totalled nearly $19.6 billion.

The FCC put so-called open-access provisions on the C block, meaning Verizon
must allow outside devices such as mobile handsets from other carriers and must
allow users to run outside applications on the network. Verizon originally filed
a lawsuit against the FCC's open access rules, but dropped out while trade group
the CTIA continued with the lawsuit.

Google, which had expressed interest in the C block, did not win any of the
C block licenses.

Verizon said it was "very pleased" with the auction results. "Specifically,
we were successful in achieving the spectrum depth we need to continue to grow
our business and data revenues, to preserve our reputation as the nation's most
reliable wireless network, and to continue to lead in data services and help
us satisfy the next wave of services and consumer electronics devices,"
the company said in a statement.

Among the other winners in the 700MHz auction was AT&T, which won spectrum
covering the metropolitan areas of New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas,
Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and dozens of other large cities. Qualcomm
won spectrum covering New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles and other
areas.

Public Knowledge and Free Press, groups that had pushed for the open-access
rules, gave mixed reactions to the auction's results.

"We are not surprised" at the auction's results, said Art Brodsky,
Public Knowledge's spokesman. "We look forward to the company working within
the letter and the spirit of the open access policies the commission approved,"
he added."Perhaps they could even persuade CTIA to drop their court challenge
to the auction."

The spectrum auction raised more than the $10 billion budgeted by the U.S.
Congress, but failed to provide a public safety network and failed to create
a new wireless competitor to cable and telecom-based broadband providers, said
Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press.

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