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Just one snag left in the 700 MHz auction

Okay, so the government has raked in a ton more money than they had anticipated — or at least publicly anticipated — with the 700 MHz auction. They’re up near $20 billion, which has to be a major victory, since publicly they were saying they would be happy with $10 to $12 billion. The C block has also been freed, with the reserve price of $4.6 billion being met. There were rumors of a bidding frenzy for that block, but in the end it turned out to be Verizon and Verizon only, with Google there to bring the bid over the reserve mark. And now we’re left with the public safety aspect of the spectrum, which still hasn’t moved from its first-day bid of $472 million.

Things aren’t looking good going forward, either. From Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

“We now know that only the D Block may not sell in this auction,” Dingell said in a statement. “The construction of a nationwide, next-generation, interoperable broadband network for public safety is a crucial policy objective, and the need for such a network has not diminished.”

There really doesn’t seem to be a plan in place for when the D block doesn’t hit the reserve price. From FCC Chairman Kevin Martin:

“I will always continue to be optimistic that someone will take on the burden of working with public safety to resolve these interoperability issues,” Martin said. “But if no one steps forward, the commission will have to reevaluate, obviously.”

Hey, maybe this is how Sprint could get back in our good graces. Hey, just sayin’…

[Washington Post]