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700MHz attracts Paul Allen

Chunk of spectrum latest must-have accessory for the super-rich?

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The FCC has revealed the list of bidders interested in owning a little 700MHz, a spectrum due for release in January next year with the switch off of analogue TV.

Among the usual suspects is Microsoft founder and general investor-in-unlikely-things Paul Allen.

Mr Allen is listed with Vulcan Spectrum, a company which seems to have been set up specifically to handle the bidding, though he is heavily involved in an investment company called Vulcan Capital.

Also on the list is Google, as expected, and existing operators including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Qualcomm.

In all, 266 companies have applied to take part in the auction, with 96 so far accepted (pdf) and the rest (pdf) having to provide more details before the 4 January deadline for submissions.

Companies are planning everything from cheap mobile phone networks to fixed broadband provision and spectrum management - buying up a chunk and then leasing it, or reselling it to third parties.

Many bidders will be looking for regional licenses and differing blocks of frequencies. The auction will last several weeks, and bidders will be able to change their bids depending on the actions of other bidders and which parts of the spectrum are most hotly contested.

None of those steps will be revealed to the public until after the event, when we can pore over the figures to work out who was trying to achieve what, and how close they came.

Bidding will take place electronically through the FCC website, but only Windows users will be able to take part as Mac OS is not supported. ®

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