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Frontline Wireless matches Google with 700-MHz bid

'We are bidding to win'

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As expected, uber-startup Frontline Wireless will bid for the 700-MHz band, that juicy slice of US wireless spectrum due to be auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in January.

"We are bidding to win and to build out a 4G network to meet the needs of public safety and other customers and to operationalize open access with a wholesale business model as a carrier's carrier," reads a statement from the company. "Throughout this debate we have championed market-based solutions for public safety, wireless broadband competition and open access. We are now moving to the next phase of making these public interest goals a reality."

Due to FCC restrictions, the company couldn't tell us anything more, but judging from this statement and our recent conversation with Frontline chairman Janice Obuchowski, we're guessing the startup will bid for both the 700-MHz "C Block" and the "D Block."

Designated for nothing but commercial use, the C Block includes an open access requirement, forcing the winning bidder to provide access from any device and any application. Meanwhile, the D-Block has been earmarked for a public safety network - though parts can be used for commercial purposes as well.

"We think it's doable to build out a nationwide broadband wireless network along the internet model," Obuchowski told us. "Part of that model involves making the network far more accessible to all sorts of comers: content providers, handset providers, and the rest. At the same time, we believe there is a strong need for a public-private partnership to build out a public safety network."

More than a week ago, Google announced that it will bid for the C Block, and today, American cable operator Cox Communications revealed that it will lay down a bid as well. Meanwhile, the country's two largest cable operators, Comcast and Time Warner, have said they will not join the bidding.

You can also expect bids from big-name wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T. But it's yet to be seen when the FCC will reveal the official list of bidders. ®

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