Google’s push for Open-Access has paid off with the $4.6 billion reserve being met in the 17th round of bidding early this morning.
Bidding on the package of 8 licenses covering all 50 states is now up to just over $4.7 billion. The minimum bid for round 22, opening tomorrow morning at 9:30 ET, is $5.1 billion. Though there have been no bids since round 17, it is impossible to determine at this point who has the winning bid. Winners will be announced after the end of the auction.
The spectrum consists of the C-block of the upper 700MHz band, which is split into two 22MHz wide sub-blocks. 700MHz is ideal for wireless digital communications because of its resistance to attenuation by Earth’s atmosphere, and its ability to penetrate walls and foliage. This is similar to the 800MHz "cellular" band currently used by wireless carriers in the US, and the 900MHz band used by carriers in other parts of the world.
Google persuaded the FCC to designate the spectrum as open to devices and applications by promising to bid a minimum of $4.6 billion. Google’s effort met much criticism from experts who argued that the restrictions would decrease the incentive for bidding. If the reserve price had not been met, the FCC would have most likely removed the restriction, and included the spectrum in the next auction.
With the grand total of all bids now at $15.6 billion, reserves have still not been met for the D and E blocks.