FCC spectrum auction takes in $16.9 billion

The heavily contested US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction for cellular telephone frequencies in 195 markets nationwide ended last Friday with total bids of $US16.9 billon.

          The heavily contested US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction for cellular telephone frequencies in 195 markets nationwide ended last Friday with total bids of $US16.9 billon.

          Verizon Wireless led the pack with total high bids of $US8.8 billion.

          But as far as one small, disgruntled bidder is concerned, the allocation of licences is far from settled.

          Paul Posner, president of Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Communications, says his company has a meeting with the FCC on Wednesday at which he will press the commission to have the winning bids of what he called "sham entrepreneurs" thrown out.

          The FCC allocated one out of the three licences in each market to small companies designated as "entrepreneurs." However, two large carriers are backing two of the highest bidders in the auction, Alaska Native Wireless of Fairbanks and Salmon PCS in Bethesda, Maryland.

          Verizon and Alaska Native submitted the winning bids in the New York market, with $US4 billion and $US1.5 billion respectively. Salmon PCS was the third-highest bidder at $2.3 billion, winning licences in Los Angeles, Dallas and Boston.

          Posner says that if the FCC doesn't throw out the licences awarded to Alaska Native and Salmon, he intends to pursue legal action.

          Posner previously went to federal court to stop the auction, citing the close financial relationship between Alaska Native and AT&T Wireless Group and between Salmon and Cingular Wireless. His request was denied and the auction was allowed to proceed.

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