Regulators name bidders in US airwaves auction

More than 200 companies had qualified to bid during the auction of public airwaves that could raise as much as $15 billion for the US Treasury, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the Federal Communications Commission released a final list of 214 bidders for the much-anticipated auction set for January 24. Winners will use the valuable spectrum to deliver wireless voice and data services to millions of customers.

To qualify, companies were required to submit minimum upfront payments by January 4, the report said.

The airwaves to be auctioned are in use by television broadcasters and will become available once they switch to digital signals in February 2009.

Among the bidders that qualified was Google, which lobbied successfully for a requirement that a third of the airwaves to be auctioned be open to any device or software applications, it added.

Google or some other company will have to pony up a minimum bid of $4.6 billion to ensure the 'open access' rules remain in place.

The nation's two dominant cell phone providers both qualified to bid: Verizon Wireless and AT&T MetroPCS Wireless also qualified, as did Alltel, which was recently sold to a private investor group, the report said.

A number of cable television companies qualified, though the two largest in the nation, Comcast and Time Warner, opted to sit out.

Advance/Newhouse Partnership, which operates Bright Networks, qualified, as did bidders owned by Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems, the report said.

Vulcan Spectrum, a company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, also qualified, the report added.