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Wheeler: Multiple Wireless Bidders Will Show Up to Auction

Count FCC chairman Tom Wheeler among those not worried by talk about Verizon not being a major incentive auction player and Sprint's decision not to participate in the auction.

Asked at a press conference about how that might affect the success of the auction in terms of dollars brought in, Wheeler said "I think we'll have a very successful auction."

The chairman said what they were seeing was players positioning themselves, talking about "well, maybe I am not going to show too many cards about whether I will participate or maybe I will focus on how this person decides not to participate..."

He called it all "pre-auction shenanigans" that would be expected in any kind of marketplace.

Wheeler said he was "confident there will be multiple broadcast licensees putting up spectrum for auction, and multiple forward auction bidders to use that spectrum for competitive wireless services."

He said the FCC was not keeping score by dollars and cents but by how much spectrum the FCC could repurpose.

Asked to respond to broadcaster questions about whether the auction is truly voluntary, Wheeler seemed incredulous. "I don’t think there are any FCC agents with guns to the heads of broadcasters. You are free to decide whether you want to participate or not and I think that is the definition of voluntary."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.