FCC Airwaves Auction Sets Record
But a band that required open access drew a low price
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2008 8:26 AM CDT
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in this Jan. 8. 2008 file photo. The FCC auctioned nearly $20 billion worth of frequency bands to telecom providers.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
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(Newser) – The FCC earned a record $19.6 billion auctioning soon-to-be-available airwaves to wireless network providers, the Wall Street Journal reports after months of bidding closed yesterday. While the auction exceeded the $15 billion the agency expected, it could have earned still more if it hadn’t placed restrictions on certain blocks of frequencies, critics say.

Under pressure from Google, which participated in the auction, the FCC specified that the buyer of one block of frequencies keep its network open to devices or software supplied by outside companies. That block sold for just $15 million more than the $4.6 billion reserve price. An unrestricted block with a reserve price of $1.4 billion sold for $9.1 billion. Buyers won’t be announced until later this week.