FCC to auction handful of 700 MHz licenses

The FCC announced it will auction off 16 spectrum licenses in the 700 MHz band starting July 19. The agency said the licenses were among the 1,098 licenses it offered up in an auction in 2008, but were ones that remained unsold or on which a winning bidder defaulted. The A and B Block 700 MHz licenses are in areas of Texas, North Dakota, Puerto Rico and other small markets.

The FCC's 700 MHz spectrum auction in 2008 raised close to $20 billion in bids, primarily from Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), which are currently using their winnings to build out LTE networks.

Eight of the licenses up for bid in July are ones that went unsold during the FCC's 2008 auction, and the remaining eight licenses are ones on which the winning bidder defaulted. A bidding entity called VentureTel 700 was the winning bidder on seven of the eight licenses that are now being re-auctioned; VentureTel placed around $2 million in winning bids during the 2008 auction. A letter from the FCC to VentureTel's Charles Austin--to an address in Irving, Texas, and dated Oct. 1, 2008--warned that VentureTel had not yet paid for its licenses.

Attempts to reach VentureTel were unsuccessful.

The FCC dubbed July's re-auction as Auction 92 (the initial 700 MHz auction was dubbed Auction 73). As in Auction 73, the FCC said Auction 92 will include anonymous bidding, whereby the identity of bidders won't be disclosed until after the auction is finished.

Auction 93 appears to be a small part of the FCC's efforts to free up additional spectrum for mobile broadband. The agency also is expected to set auctions for 700 MHz D Block spectrum for public safety and AWS-3 spectrum.

For more:
- see this FCC release
- see this Phone Scoop article

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