After 261 rounds of bidding, the FCC's 700-MHz auction, also known as Auction 73, came to a end Tuesday afternoon. According to FCC chairman Kevin Martin, the agency raised a total of $19.6 billion, more money than any auction in the agency's history and almost double original congressional estimates.
For the highly coveted C-Block, the gross winning bids on the 12 licenses totaled $4.75 billion, exceeding the reserve price of $4.6 billion. This means that the open access rules that Google petitioned for leading up to the auction were automatically triggered and will, in theory, require the winner to let any legal mobile device or applications run on the network. Many experts remain skeptical about those rules, however, and point to exploitable loopholes in the way the FCC is defining open access for the winning bidder.
The showdown for the C-Block was largely thought to be between Verizon and Google.
The FCC did not immediately release the identities of the winning bidders who remained anonymous throughout the actual auction to avoid collusion.
However, a press contact at the FCC with tells Wired.com that Chairman Martin circulated an order to the other commission members shorty after the auction ended Tuesday afternoon.
Despite the record bids, one block -- Block D, which was dedicated to the creation of a public safety/private partnership nationwide, interoperable network -- did not meet its reserve bid of $1.3 billion. As a result, Martin's order is moving to "de-link" that portion of the spectrum to clear approval for the rest.
If and when the commissioners approve that order, the FCC would then release the final list of winning bidders.
"It's hard to predict how long that will take since it involve commissioners voting," an FCC spokesperson said.
According to the FCC, bidders are currently still bound by anti-collusion rules and not allowed to talk about their bids.
The proceeds generated from this auction will be transferred to the U.S. Treasury by June 30, 2008, and will be used to support public safety and digital television transition (DTV) initiatives, including paying for those coupons you've been hearing about.