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.