John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

The 700-MHz Auction Is Decadent and Depraved

You wouldn’t know it to look at the headlines, but Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo isn’t the only big news in tech this week. The Federal Communications Commission’s 700-MHz spectrum auction took an unexpected turn yesterday when a new bidder emerged for the the highly prized “C” block spectrum, which could be used to build a new national wireless broadband network.

C block bidding now stands at $4.74 billion. But what’s most interesting is how it got there. No bids were made for the C block at all Friday, and the $4.71 billion bid for the block’s national license stood. Then yesterday, eight separate bids were made for the individual regional licenses that comprise the national C license. The sum of those bids totaled $4.74 billion, barely eclipsing the $4.71 billion potential winning bid.

Who made them? We don’t know; bidding is anonymous until the auction concludes. That said, analysts speculate that the bids were likely placed by Verizon. “This could reflect a continued battle between two original bidders–most likely Verizon Wireless and Google–on the C block, or could represent an entirely different bidder or combination of bidders that are exiting the sky-high prices of (another) block,” analysts at Stifel Nicolaus wrote in a research note.