The 700 MHz Spectrum Auctions. Who's In, Who's Out.

spectrum.jpgThe deadline to apply to participate in the FCC’s upcoming auction of wireless 700 MHz spectrum passed on Monday. And we still don’t know exactly who the bidders will be. But we have a pretty good idea.

Google is in. So is AT&T, Frontline Wireless, and Craig McCaw’s Clearwire. Comcast and Time Warner are out. But Cox Communications is in.

Verizon Wireless isn’t saying either way, but everyone expects it to bid. Sprint Nextel is sitting this one out, as is Microsoft. And T-Mobile isn’t expected to play a big role.

At least initially, there seems to be two major camps. Google and Frontline on one side, looking for an opening in the entrenched wireless industry. And AT&T and Verizon on the other, trying to keep the technology pirates from climbing aboard their ships. And Craig McCaw as always, is the wild card.

As for other possible bidders, you can never count out Qualcomm, or the handset manufacturers like Nokia or Sony Ericsoon, who might like to bypass the carriers for once. Smaller wireless companies like Alltel or Leap Wireless could bid on a regional basis.

I would not be surprised if at some point Google and Frontline combine forces. Any auction strategists or game theorists out there have any advice for how they can improve their chances of winning? Please enlighten us in comments.

(Photo by Steve Jurvetson)