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Today begins the 700 MHz auction

We’ve been talking about it for months, and its finally here: The fabled 700 MHz spectrum auction. The FCC will be putting 1,099 spectrum licenses up for bids, which will be awarded to a number of the 214 registered applicants. So it’s time to get excited, right? Well, maybe not quite yet. The bidding will go on for quite a while — possibly a month — and we really won’t know who won until 10 days after the auction. Hey, it’ll be more interesting than watching paint dry, at least.

The government is expecting a $12 billion return from the sale of 62 megahertz of spectrum. Among the larger profile bidders are Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Google, and Qualcomm, with a number of cable juggernauts — including Cablevision and Cox — also vying for airwaves.

Bidders of note to the prepaid community are MetroPCS, Leap Wireless, and Alltel. Manyt of our other pay as you go phone provider reviews will benefit from their parent networks acquiring spectrum.

One of the provisions of the auction is the appropriation of a C Block which is to be reserved for public safety and first responders. Originally, Frontline Wireless had their eyes on this block, but were disqualified after failing to submit an upfront payment. This does not bode well for public safety:

“I have a hard time understanding why any of the big incumbent wireless carriers would go after the D Block with all the conditions,” said Carol Mattey, managing director of telecom regulatory consulting at Deloitte Touche, and a former FCC official.

If you like watching grass grow, you can follow the auction on the FCC’s website.

[RCR Wireless News]