Lessons From The 700 MHz Auction? More Of The Same
from the no-surprises-here dept
So the winners of the 700 MHz spectrum auction have been announced and to say that there were no surprises would be an understatement. It played out almost exactly as most observers predicted it would. Verizon Wireless ended up with the C-block (with Google only bidding right up to the cut-off amount to force Verizon to play by “open” rules) and AT&T added some spectrum as well, which it can add to the 700 MHz spectrum it picked up separately last year. The end result? Nothing too exciting for consumers. Whether or not Verizon Wireless’s required “openness” makes a difference remains to be seen. What didn’t happen was someone new entering the scene — meaning that we’re not going to see anything really new come out of all this spectrum.
In fact, perhaps the most bizarre bid of all was EchoStar spending $700 million on spectrum that can only be used for one-way communication. One-way communication is less and less useful these days. EchoStar has been making some interesting moves of late, but using this spectrum to build a mobile TV broadcast solution (which is what many expect) makes little sense. It will cost the company billions, and then they’ll be limited to a one-way communication system just as people are recognizing that the real value is in multi-directional communications. It may give the company another option rather than relying on satellites (which are costly and troublesome at times), but the expense is way too high considering the limitations. So, even with EchoStar, we’re talking about “more of the same.” That’s too bad, as there was a quiet hope that someone different would step in and do something really new and interesting with this valuable spectrum.