Verizon, AT&T Bids Bag Top Spots In FCC 700MHz Auction

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Verizon spent more than $9 billion, and AT&T over $6 billion in the auction that included an "open-access" provision in which users on roughly one-third of the airwaves would be able to use any phone or software and see other data services expanded.

With its winning bid, Verizon now owns the C-block of the 700 MHz band while AT&T won licenses in regional licenses in the C block around the United States.

"Upon final award of this spectrum, the company's 700 MHz spectrum will cover 100 percent of the top 200 markets," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T's wireless unit in a statement. "Combined with the spectrum previously purchased in the AWS auction, AT&T will have quality spectrum available for new services covering 95 percent of the U.S. population. With this spectrum we can continue to deliver the latest technology and best-in-class services to our customers as the wireless industry grows and evolves."

Google, which spent $4.6 billion in a bid that it submitted last July, walked away with nothing. The company attracted negative publicity when it requested that the FCC adopt four license conditions to change the auction process. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company provoked the ire of Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs.

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"Google is demanding the government stack the deck in its favor, limit competing bids, and effectively force wireless carriers to alter their business models to Google's liking," Cicconi said in a statement at the time." We would repeat that Google should put up or shut up -- they can bid and enter the wireless market with any business model they prefer then let consumers decide which model they like best."

A statement on Google's site posted today said, "While the Commission's anti-collusion rules prevent us from saying much at this point, one thing is clear: although Google didn't pick up any spectrum licenses, the auction produced a major victory for American consumers. We congratulate the winners and look forward to a more open wireless world. As a result of the auction, consumers whose devices use the C-block of spectrum soon will be able to use any wireless device they wish, and download to their devices any applications and content they wish. Consumers soon should begin enjoying new, Internet-like freedom to get the most out of their mobile phones and other wireless devices."

For its part, the FCC emerged as a winner and said in a statement, "The auction which resulted in $19.2 billion in gross winning bids and $18.96 billion in net winning bids is the largest auction in FCC history. Revenues raised in this auction exceeded congressional estimates of $10.182 billion by approximately 187 percent...and advanced new wireless open platform policies, created opportunities for new entrants and small businesses both nationwide and in rural markets.

"The auction has already had an impact on the wireless industry. Following the Commission's decision to impose an open platform requirement on the C block, Verizon Wireless made a commitment to open its entire network to devices and applications of consumers' own choosing."

Scott Campbell contributed to this article