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700 MHz Deadline Looms

Some major carriers are being a little more circumspect than Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) about their bidding plans for 700 MHz spectrum.

Today is the deadline for companies to inform the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of their intention to bid on the spectrum, which is opening up as analog TV broadcasters move off these airwaves and onto digital systems. Google said Friday that it intends to bid on the bandwidth and has previously said it will match a $4.6 billion reserve on the C-Band of the spectrum. (See Google Confirms 700MHz Bid.)

Some established carriers are playing their cards a little closer to their chest.

"We filed with the FCC today that we intend to bid in the upcoming auction," a Verizon Wireless spokesman said in response to Unstrung's questions this afternoon. Neither Alltel Corp. (NYSE: AT) nor T-Mobile US Inc. has yet responded to Unstrung's inquiries about their plans.

Others are being more forthright. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CEO Randall Stephenson told a Silicon Valley crowd last week that the carrier would bid, since it considers the spectrum to be "beachfront property." (See AT&T Parties Like It's 1999.)

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has indicated it doesn't need the new wireless spectrum because it already has so many licenses in the 2.5 Ghz band. It is unclear, however, whether the firm's current WiMax woes will change that picture. (See Sprint's Ready to XOHM Out and Sprint Plans WiMax.)

And, surprisingly enough, cable operators Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) are saying they'll sit this one out. (See Comcast, TWC Won't Bid in Wireless Auction .)

After today, the bidding process goes into radio silence until late December, due to FCC anti-collusion rules. By Dec. 28, the FCC intends to release a list of the companies that want to bid. Even then, however, the agency won't divulge what licenses the interested parties are bidding on. Actual bidding on specific licenses will start on Jan. 24.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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