02.04.2008 07:54 AM
FCC 700MHz spectrum auction bids exceed $19 billion

The total amount of money bid on spectrum auction now exceeds $19 billion, but the big news came late last week when a bidder met the $4.6 billion minimum bid on the C-block spectrum, allowing the building of a new open national network.

If the minimum $4.6 billion floor price had not been met, the spectrum would have been rebid without open-access conditions. But that didn’t happen, and the winner (not yet known) will be required to open the network to outside applications and devices.

It was a great day for the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition, who called it a “welcome development for consumers.” The group is made up of Consumers Union, Free Press, Media Access Project and others.

“The winner of the auction will be required to offer consumers more options for devices and more choice among wireless applications than wireless companies do now,” the group said in a statement. “We hope the freedom that will develop as the new spectrum opens up will carry over into the existing cellular network.”

The Free Press’s policy director Ben Scott said the day “marks a key moment in the future of an open Internet. Detractors who vociferously objected last year to new FCC policies that give consumers more choice and freedom have been proven dead wrong. We have at least one company [the bidding is anonymous] willing to bet billions on an open network.”

“Now, everyone should be able to see that open access is an idea whose time has truly come,” said FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. “Imagine being able to use any mobile device or application that you want, to reach any legal content that you want, so long as you don’t harm the network. That’s a tremendous improvement over being restricted to a particular bundle of device, application and content chosen for you by your wireless company.”

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