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Spectrum Auction Update: $6.1B in Total Bids Through Round Eight

The bids for a block of spectrum that could be used for a new, nationwide wireless network continued to rise Monday, with the top bid in the eighth round of the Federal Communications Commission auction reaching $2.976 billion and the new minimum bid for round nine, which begins Tuesday morning, set at $3.419 billion.

After eight rounds Monday, the bid total for all five blocks of spectrum up for grabs was $6.1 billion for all five blocks -- well more than halfway to the $10 billion total the FCC must take in from its auction of 700-megahertz spectrum, which is being reclaimed in the switch to digital TV.

But while the so-called C block of spectrum continued to draw interest and push toward the minimum bid of $4.6 billion, another national license that must be shared with first-responders was stuck at the same bid price.

The bid for that so-called D block of spectrum was $472 million -- the same as it has been since round 2 -- with the minimum bid set at $519 million. That was the same it was for round 7, but it had previously been reduced several times. The final bid for the D block must be well over $1 billion or the FCC will reauction that block of spectrum, as it will any of the other five blocks that don't meet their minimums.

After Frontline Wireless dropped out of the bidding for the D-block public-private partnership spectrum, there was concern about who would step up to bid for and build the network, which must be turned over to first-responders in times of national emergency.

The FCC began auctioning the spectrum Friday and, after four rounds of bidding, the C block bid had stood at $1.72 billion and the bid total for the five blocks (62 MHz of spectrum) had been $3.7 billion.

Bidding resumes Tuesday, and qualified bidders for the auction -- where bidding is anonymous -- include Google, Cox Communications, Advance/Newhouse Communications, AT&T and Bresnan Communications.