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Verizon gobbles up spectrum at 700MHz auction

Wins big in the coveted "C Block" open-access spectrum

By Brad Reed, Network World
March 20, 2008 02:40 PM ET

Network World - Verizon Wireless emerged as the big winner today in the FCC's 700 MHz auction, as the carrier won nearly all of the licenses on a coveted chunk of open-access spectrum.

The spectrum, dubbed the "C block" by the FCC, is a 22-MHz chunk of spectrum that garnered significant attention last year when the FCC placed open-access rules on it mandating that future licensees would be prohibited from blocking or slowing Internet traffic from competing carriers using the network. The FCC also said the C-Block winner would have to allow any devices to connect to the network.

Verizon has won C-Block licenses for every region in the United States except for Alaska. The company bid around $4.7 billion total for the rights to acquire its C-Block licenses, bidding $1.6 billion for the Mississippi Valley C-Block license and $1.1 billion for the C-Block license in the Great Lakes region.

Verizon's chief rival AT&T won more than 150 licenses on the B Block of spectrum, which generally covers individual metropolitan areas throughout the United States. In total, the two carriers bid a combined $16 billion, accounting for more than 80% of the $19.6 billion in total bids, the FCC said.

Verizon issued a statement saying it was pleased with the results of the auction and added that "we were successful in achieving the spectrum depth we need to continue to grow our business and data revenues" and that the company had acquired spectrum that would give it "a nationwide spectrum footprint covering 298M Pops, plus 102 licenses for individual markets covering 171M Pops."

The 700 MHz auction sold off 1,096 licenses for spectrum on the 700-MHz band that is scheduled to be vacated by incumbent UHF television broadcasters in February 2009. In total, the auction lasted for 261 rounds over a span of nearly two months.

Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.

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