The airwaves that will become available from the digital transition go on sale today and the FCC hopes to gain about $10 billion from the sale of the spectrum.
$7.4 billion of the proceeds will go to the U.S. Treasury to help offset the federal budget deficit, $1.5 billion will go to the coupon program subsidizing the digital converter boxes and $1 billion is scheduled to improve communications among public safety agencies.
There are 214 bidders for the 1,099 licenses that are being auctioned. Among the bidders: Google, which has become involved in wireless technology, now that internet searches have gone mobile. The AP reports Google has pledged to pay at least the reserve amount of $4.6 billion for the C-block (the open-access spectrum block), which is broken into 12 regional licenses. The winners may not be known for weeks or even months.
The SF Chronicle points out the auction also holds the promise of delivering a good wireless broadband alternative to cable and DSL, since the 700 megahertz spectrum on sale has enough capacity to build a nationwide broadband network with faster speeds than current cellular data networks.