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FCC OK's secret bids on spectrum

In an attempt to prevent collusion among bidders, the FCC last week approved rules to allow anonymous bidding at a spectrum auction set for June 29.

The FCC agreed to keep secret the identity of bidders for licenses after each auction round, depending on a formula determining how much competition surrounds the sale for the valuable licenses, Reuters reported. However, the amount of money bid for each license will be released during the sale.

The details of the bidding will become open if the FCC determines that enough companies are seeking licenses to keep the auction competitive.

Reuters reported that the secrecy provision represents a compromise between the wireless industry, which opposed blind bidding, and the commission, which was concerned about bidders signaling or targeting each other during the auction.

The FCC auction starts June 29 and winning bidders will be able to use the spectrum to offer advanced wireless services such as video and high-speed Internet access. This auction will include 1122 licenses in the 1710- to 1755MHz and 2110- to -2155 MHz bands. The government expects to raise $8 to $15 billion.

Wireless companies such as T-Mobile are expected to be aggressive bidders in the sale. Carriers have sought more airwaves to expand and improve services.

A reserve price of about $2 billion for all of the licenses in the auction was set by the FCC in order to comply with a statutory requirement to fund the relocation of federal government entities that currently operate in the 1710- to 1755MHz band. The commission will cancel the auction if the net winning bids at the close of the auction does not equal at least that amount.

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