Bidding begins today on some of the most valuable spectrum to be auctioned in the U.S. in years – the 700 MHz band currently occupied by broadcast TV stations.
And the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), simultaneous with opening the auction, has resumed testing a prototype wireless device that might be able to make use of some of that spectrum. The device was submitted by a group comprising Adaptrum, Microsoft, Motorola and Philips Electronics North America.
The new wireless device is designed to detect which part of the spectrum is in use, and which part is not, and then transmit in the unused spectrum. Several prototypes have failed; on one occasion the device failed to avoid interfering with broadcasts on nearby bands.
If the FCC approves the device, the developers intend to commercialize it after the digital transition in February 2009.
The end of analog broadcasting and the switch to digital broadcasting is what has opened the 700 MHz spectrum. Bidding starts today, but the auction is open-ended and might not be closed for weeks. The U.S. government hopes the auction will raise $10 billion or more.
The bidding can be monitored on the FCC’s Web site (select Auction 73). There will be several rounds of bidding each day. At the end of the very first round today, the FCC had received bids totaling $2.4 billion.
Companies that have registered to bid include the usual suspects – AT&T and Verizon Wireless – but also some companies looking to get into wireless, including Cablevision Systems, Google and EchoStar.
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