Forget Google, Watch Out For Chevron In The 700 MHz Auction

from the my-ISP-is-Chevron? dept

Everybody’s been buzzing about the likelihood of Google bidding on the 700 MHz spectrum that’s up for auction in a few weeks, that’s allowed a few other interesting characters to get in on the auction below the radar. The FCC has now announced that 266 separate entities have filed to take part in the auction, so it’s quite a long list. So far, only 96 applications have been accepted, but the others have until January 4th to get their applications in order. Everyone knew Google was on the list, and it’s no surprise to hear names like Verizon Wireless, Alltel, MetroPCS, Vodafone and AT&T (who already got a head start buying some other spectrum in the 700 MHz realm earlier). There was some speculation about cable companies participating, and sure enough, Cox and Cablevision will show up at the auction. Then there are a few surprises. Qualcomm is planning to bid — which could upset some of the US carriers who consider Qualcomm more of a partner than a competitor.

In a list of 266 companies, there are always going to be some long shots — but it still doesn’t hurt to point out some of the more interesting bidders. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen plans to bid via his Vulcan Spectrum LLC (reusing his favorite “Vulcan” name for companies). It’s unclear what he would do with the spectrum. Perhaps even more surprising is the news that oil giant Chevron is planning to participate. What the company would do with the spectrum should it win (and it certainly has the money to win) is an open question, but there are a few intriguing ideas. As for Google, don’t hold your breath for a win here. It has seemed pretty clear from the beginning that the company is only in the auction to bid $4.6 billion — the lowest point necessary to force open access rules to kick in. It would be a huge surprise if the company bid much more than that, and it would be an even bigger surprise if no one outbid Google.

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Companies: at&t, chevron, fcc, google, verizon

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Comments on “Forget Google, Watch Out For Chevron In The 700 MHz Auction”

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Back from the Future says:

Here's the Scoop...

It’s 2035, and cars now will are refueled via the 700mHz spectrum by Chevron Electrons (TM), a joint venture of Chevron and Apple. Car manufacturers who would not agree to the terms of “L’il Steve” Jobs, Jr.’s iFuel eLectric Store DRM and revenue-sharing are now locked into brick-and-mortar fuel outlets with declinig market share.

Shun says:

Chevron and PR

Chevron may be a huge multi-headed hydra of a corporate entity, but it still depends on U.S. consumers buying up tons of not-so-cheap oil, imported from the Middle East and parts anon. Chevron is based in “San Francisco” California, although most board meetings take place in San Mateo, and its main refinery is in Richmond, across the Bay.

Chevron is constantly facing PR crisis after crisis. I guess it doesn’t help that they named a tanker after Condoleezza Rice, is considered a horrendous polluter of air and water, and is an industry which isn’t too popular with the people of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Chevron is probably looking to diversify away from oil, but they are just as addicted to oil profits as Americans are addicted to their SUVs. Still, at least they have enough intelligence to see that the age of oil will not last forever. Perhaps they want to be seen as just as indispensable in the internet age, but without the stain of being in the oil business.

Chevron is a huge corporation, and will take years to transition away from oil, but I hope they do it, and soon. The faster we get away from a fossil fuel based economy, the better. To all the doubters: look at IBM. They used to be a big iron company, and now look at them: they’re a company of consultants. Chevron might be profitable now, but unless they can show that their business (whatever that may be) is sustainable, their share price will drop like a rock, and there will be riots in the streets of Richmond.

Do I trust Chevron not to do anything nefarious with my data? No, but I wouldn’t trust Google either. AT&T has pretty much proved that it can’t be trusted, but I don’t see a mass boycott of AT&T on the horizon. If an ISP were to offer fully end-to-end encrypted pipes using something like an upgraded Tor network…well, I’d still be suspicious, but at least that’s better than the completely open-to-snooping system that we have now.

GS says:

By owning the spectrum Chevron would be able to get the price increases to their dealers way faster than the competition who are using slower AT&T owned spectrum, which would allow them to increase the price/gallon at least three seconds ahead of the competition earning them billions of dollars in added revenues annually….either that or Chevron is planning on world domination and we’re the last to hear about it. Either way, it’s slightly off-base!

Q says:

auction proceeds

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 allocates $7.363 billion of auction proceeds toward closing the budget deficit, to be paid to the U.S. Treasury on September 30, 2009. Nine programs authorized by the act to receive auction funds are: a program that would expend up to $1,500 million on coupons for households toward the purchase of TV set top boxes that can convert digital broadcast signals for display on analog sets; a grant program of up to $1,000 million for public safety agencies to deploy systems on 700 MHz spectrum they will receive as part of the transition; payments of up to $30 million toward the cost of temporary digital transmission equipment for broadcasters serving the Metropolitan New York area; payments of up to $10 million to help low-power television stations convert full-power broadcast signals from digital to analog; a program funded up to $65 million to reimburse low-power television stations in rural areas for upgrading equipment; up to $106 million to implement a unified national alert system and $50 million for a tsunami warning and coastal vulnerability program; contributions totaling no more than $43.5 million for a national 911 improvement program; and up to $30 million in support of the Essential Air Service Program. For some of these programs, the NTIA is authorized to borrow money from the Treasury, to be repaid from auction proceeds.

In other words, most of the proceeds have already been spent or allocated.


Mirage says:

Just a thought, but we all know the oil companies and the government rub elbows too often for anyone’s comfort, and Chevron spending tons of money at the government when we really wouldn’t expect it to enter the auction…

Just saying.

That said, Play-Doh was originally intended as a wallpaper cleaner, most of our cars are made by former military contractors, and the PDP 11 was not invented to play Space War.

Likewise, it isn’t totally unlikely that, especially as its business base is breaking apart, an oil company might become, say, a telecommunications company.

Would Chevron make a good WiMax ISP? Who knows. If they buy up some floundering tech companies, they certainly *could*. And if not, they could always lease their spectrum to other companies at a higher price… Google, Verizon, AT&T… whomever.

Or maybe they intend to run the “AutoMatrix” as FutureCars annoyingly calls it. It was guessing game enough when Google jumped in the ring.

Shun says:

#17, 18, and 19

Why would Chevron need 700MHZ licenses for the nation if they only intended to use it in the Gulf of Mexico? Does anyone need a license from the FCC in order to build out and use transmitters in the Gulf?

Well, anyway, I have my own conspiracy theories, but I don’t think speed of communications is their #1 priority in this. Ownership of the network will allow whoever has it unprecedented power. It won’t be exactly like the old Bell days, but the doomsayers will compare this to the monopoly of communications era.

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