As the 700MHz spectrum auction approaches, the FCC has released the list of bidders. The list includes the companies that intend to bid in next year's auction for the rights to the 700 MHz wireless spectrum that will be available nationwide soon.
While the full list totals 266 companies, only 96 applications have been accepted by the FCC, with the other 170 companies still required to finish more paperwork.
Among the bidders are predictable candidates such as AT&T, Google, Verizon Wireless (d.b.a. Cellco Partnership), Alltel, Cox, and Frontier Wireless, a company owned by satellite TV giant Dish Network. Also to be found are some unexpected entrants such as Chevron, the Navajo Nation Department of Information Technology, and unlicensed wireless Internet portal Part-15.org.
Notably not present out of the major U.S. carriers are T-Mobile, which is still trying to implement the 1700/2150 MHz spectrum that it bought at the last FCC auction, and Sprint, which says that it has all the spectrum that it requires for its current plans.
Big companies only a small part of the bidding
Rounding out the list are dozens upon dozens of small cellular and landline phone service companies, along with various partnerships and holding companies.
Some of these latter are likely fronts for larger companies -- in the way that Verizon Wireless is listed as Cellco Partnership -- or else intend to resell or lease their spectrum to others. But the lion's share of the bidders are small companies, particularly rural phone companies.
Lots of spectrum to go around
The 700 MHz auction, which begins on January 24, is slated to free up enough new spectrum to build ten new nationwide wireless networks, or four national networks and dozens of smaller regional ones.
The licenses are expected to fetch up to a total of $20 billion dollars, including a minimum of $4.6 billion just for the prime "C" block.
Every area in the United States is covered by four of the national spectrum blocks and six regional ones, providing plenty of room for local service providers to get in on the action.
This was first published in January 2008