Wireless Spectrum Auction Raises $19.6 Billion. We Still Don't Know Who Won.

fcc-logo.pngThe FCC’s wireless spectrum auction is now officially over. The government raised $19.6 billion, but we still don’t know who won. Winners are expected to be announced over the next few days and the one block of spectrum that didn’t attract the minimum bid (the D block reserved for emergency services) will likely be re-auctioned. All eyes, though, will be on who walked away with the coveted C-block.

We do know one thing, the winner (or winners) of the C-block won by bidding piecemeal for individual regional blocks instead of making one big national bid. This regional bidding strategy, which I called the Mississippi Sneak Attack, became apparent about a month ago and soon after took the lead from whoever was bidding for the national license. My theory: Google bid the bare minimum for the national licenses to trigger the open rules and then either Verizon or AT&T ended up winning the auction by bidding for individual regional licenses and putting them together.

If it turns out that Google kept on bidding and ended up the winner, it will be a big surprise to everyone. It’s motivation in participating always seemed to be to help set the rules of competition rather than a desire to operate (or lease) its own broadband wireless network.

We’ll learn soon enough if that is right.