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FCC Wireless Auction Results: Not Google

The long-awaited FCC wireless spectrum auction is over and the winner is declared—and it’s not Google. The auction raised a record $19.59 billion dollars, with the spectrum rights going to Verizon and AT&T, among others—but not Google.

AT&T won rights to almost 300 licenses in the “B” block of the spectrum, while Verizon will be granted the coveted “C” block nationwide. AT&T spent a total of $6.64 billion while Verizon spent $9.63 billion for the “C” block and 25 licenses in the “A” block.

Did I mention that Google got not one single license?

However, I’m thinking that overall Google will still take this as a victory. While they ultimately did not win any spectrum licenses, Google did succeed in getting the FCC to stipulate that the new spectrum would have openness requirements. We long thought that getting those requirements was the real reason behind Google’s plans for the wireless bid, both in their own interest and those of the consumer.

Verizon, whom Google accused of secretly lobbying the FCC in October, sought to overturn the open spectrum specs. However, yesterday Verizon outlined its open wireless plans to the New York Times. Unfortunately, their plan does little more than rehash the carrier’s decision to “open” its network to any device deemed compatible last fall.

That’s a good start, since the FCC requirements, approved last summer, state that the auction winners will be required to “permit consumers to connect using any device or software” and “make them [the spectrum? the rules? The antecedent here isn't clear] accessible to any phone, other device or application” anyway (quotations from Reuters).

Interestingly, the “D” block didn’t sell. The “E” block went largely to Frontier Wireless.