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Verizon Nabs Most Valuable 700Mhz Spectrum
AT&T, Verizon together spend $16.2 billion out of $19.5 billion auction total
by Karl Bode 04:19PM Thursday Mar 20 2008
The FCC today announced the winners of the 700Mhz auction, and not too surprisingly, Verizon Wireless came out as the auction's biggest winner, nabbing a significant portion of the treasured C-Block spectrum. That spectrum was considered the last great chunk of wireless real estate, and some (including search giant Google) had hoped it could be used to build a network that would rival those of incumbents AT&T and Verizon.
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The company, which is jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC., won six large licenses that effectively will give it a national license to provide next-generation wireless broadband service in the so-called C-Block of the spectrum being sold. In addition, it was the largest winner of licenses in the A-block, which are medium-sized licenses, and won 77 more in the B-Block, the smallest licenses that were being auctioned off.
After all of the noise and fury made by Google, the company won absolutely nothing. Many will argue Google "won" by effectively convincing the FCC to attach "open access" conditions to the spectrum Verizon won, but given the loose wording of the conditions and Verizon's cozy lobbying relationship with the FCC, those stating the conditions are game changing are over enthusiastic.

AT&T was another big winner -- failing to net any huge licenses (they didn't need them), but grabbing 227 licenses from among the "B" block of regional licenses. All told, AT&T spent $6.64 billion and Verizon spent $9.63 billion at the auction -- making up $16.2 billion of the nearly $20 billion Uncle Sam made. Frontier Wireless, partnered with Echostar, did grab some spectrum in the "E" block, but all in all it was an auction dominated by the major players.

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