has announced that it will participate in the upcoming government auction of analog airwaves in the 700MHz spectrum band, but has not decided whether it will bid on the open access reserved portion of the spectrum.
The 7000MHz spectrum is very valuable because it can travel great distances and can also penetrate thick walls, two important elements for wireless signals. This spectrum will be open as television broadcasters change their signals from analog to digital. AT&T indicated that the 700MHz spectrum would be key for AT&T to deliver data services to mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone. AT&T is the exclusive U.S. service provider for the iPhone.
AT&T has not yet indicated whether it will participate in the open access reserved portion of the auction, which requires the winner to use those airwaves to deliver services to any device or software. U.S. wireless carriers currently have exclusive rights to their bandwidth, have restrictions on cell phone models that work with their networks and also limit software that can be downloaded, including music and Web browser software. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has suggested an opening minimum bid of $4.6 billion for the block of open-access airwaves, which includes the 22MHz of the 62 MHz of spectrum to be auctioned off.
Both Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications Inc., and Vodafone Group PLC are claiming that the FCC exceeded its authority when it imposed the open access reserve requirements for the spectrum auction, and have asked a federal court to overturn the open-access rules as unconstitutional. Google, Inc., a late comer to the open spectrum auction, supports the open access rules and announced that it plans to take part in the bidding.
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