Comcast Won’t Bid on 700-MHz Spectrum

Comcast said Monday it has decided to not bid in the Federal Communications Commission’s January auction for spectrum in the 700-Megahertz band, citing existing wireless-spectrum holdings acquired with three other cable companies.

“Comcast Corporation has decided not to bid in the 700-MHz wireless auction,” Comcast senior vice president D'Arcy Rudnay said, in a prepared statement. “The 20 MHz of spectrum acquired in the wireless auction last year with our cable partners in SpectrumCo provides us with significant long-term flexibility and many strategic options. We will continue to explore how wireless can complement our services through various partnerships and consumer trials.”

SpectrumCo is the joint venture Comcast established with Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications that acquired Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum for $2.4 billion in an FCC auction last year. The joint venture has reportedly been staffing up, seeking executives to manage different aspects of running a wireless service. 

Google last week said it will bid on the 700-MHz spectrum by itself, a move the Internet search company took after it helped lobby the FCC successfully to change certain rules for the auction. The winner of the so-called C-Block of spectrum in the 700-MHz band must allow customers to use any application and any mobile device on that wireless network if the reserve price of $4.6 billion is met at auction.

Analysts expect Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two largest wireless carriers in the U.S., also to participate in the bidding.

Monday, Dec. 3, is the deadline for bidders to file applications with the FCC to participate in the 700-MHz auction, which is set to begin Jan. 24.

The 700-MHz spectrum is being made available as a result of the government-mandated switchover for local TV stations to discontinue analog broadcasts by Feb. 17, 2009. The FCC is auctioning off 62 MHz of spectrum in the band, which is considered a valuable piece of wireless real estate with long-range and can be used for voice, video and data.