TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FCC Speeds Up Bidding in Wireless Sale

FCC Speeds Up Bidding in Wireless Sale

Jeremy Pelofsky (
Tue, 29 Aug 2006 12:45:30 -0500

By Jeremy Pelofsky

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday accelerated the
bidding in its auction of licenses for advanced wireless services,
which has already raised almost $13.6 billion after 14 days.

The agency added two rounds of bidding per day to bring the daily
total to six rounds and cut the time of each round in half to 30
minutes, an effort to complete the sale as companies vie for 1,122
licenses around the country.

The auction continues until there are no new bids, withdrawals or
other activity.

After 54 rounds, T-Mobile USA, the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier and a
unit of Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG, provisionally had the highest
bids for 121 licenses with offers of $4.2 billion.

Analysts predicted the company would be an aggressive bidder because
it does not have as many airwaves as its larger competitors. T-Mobile
has the highest bids for several large regional licenses as well as
ones that cover smaller areas.

No. 2 wireless carrier Verizon Wireless is second in the bidding, with
provisionally winning bids of $2.8 billion for four licenses.

While traditional wireless companies have largely dominated the
auction, a group that includes the major cable television providers
and No. 3 wireless carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. is in third place based
on provisionally winning bids.

That group, SpectrumCo LLC, includes Comcast Corp., Time Warner
Inc. and Cox Communications and has the highest bids for 133 licenses
with offers of almost $2.3 billion, according to FCC data.

Analysts have predicted the sale could raise up to $15 billion, which
would be a record if there are no successful legal challenges or
bidders that failed to pay.

The FCC did raise $17.6 billion in a 2001 auction, but that sale was
later voided when the Supreme Court ruled the licenses up for auction
were wrongfully taken from a company in bankruptcy protection.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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