Wednesday, January 30, 2008

700Mhz auction: who will be coming to Harrisburg, PA?

Depending on whom you read, the auction is making good, predictable progress or barely inching forward. I agree with the former. The nationwide C-block package, the one with open-access requirements, is approaching its reserve amount. The total bid is closing in on the pre-auction estimates of "over $10 billion." All this with less than a week gone. So I think we'll be fine, in spite of the slow bidding thus far for the D-block, public safety band.
So the real question is:

If the 700mhz band is wireless "beachfront property," then who wants to build a trashy wireless boardwalk in my town, Harrisburg, PA?

For answers, I turn to Greg Rose's Econoklastic blog, which has been the most insightful resource I've found about the auction, and the stories behind it. Greg has done a sprawling, six-part post (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) on who might be bidding for which slices of spectrum. What does Greg think about Harrisburg, or, more specifically, the Harrisburg-Lebanon-Carlisle A- and E-block components?

Verizon will be aiming at the nationwide license bundle. But others, such as MetroPCS, Cricket, and Alltel, who need to fill in coverage gaps might be interested. While most of these folks would prefer the larger B-block licenses, they will use the A's and E's as fallbacks.

How about cable companies? Sorry, no. The qualified bidders (Cablevision, Cox, Advance/Newhouse) are expected to stay in their regions. Our dominant cable provider, Comcast, is sitting the auction out.

Chevron, a wild card? Greg expects them to target offshore regions where their oil platforms reside.

And, of course, Google. They are aiming at the nationwide C-block package. I for one really want the opportunity to buy a Google phone and subscribe to Google service. I can't imagine what that would be like, except I'm pretty sure it wouldn't resemble the wireless experience as we know it today.

We can only hope they're successful...

(Photo by weirdvis)

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