US Analog Airwaves Auction Beats Expectations

20 March 2008

WASHINGTON DC: The US government will net a $19.6 billion (€12.4bn; £9/7bn) windfall from the auction of analog airwaves freed-up next year when the nation's switch to digital television is completed.

The Federal Communications Commission, which oversaw the bidding, has not yet revealed the names of the winning firms, but among those in the frame are telcos AT&T and Verizon and online search giant Google.

The spectrum will be used to build new broadband networks for next-generation cellphones and other devices.

The only block of airwaves that failed to meet its reserve price was D block. Under FCC rules the winner would have had to give police, firefighters and other public safety groups priority use during an emergency.

The commission might now decide to re-auction the block and modify the rules and minimum price to make it more attractive to potential bidders.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff