Landmark US auction marks end of analogue TV; Google wins open spectrum

SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, 2008 (AFP) – US telecom giants Verizon Wireless and AT&T on Thursday took home the big prizes in a record-setting US wireless spectrum auction while Google got the open access it eagerly craves.

The 700 MHz band currently carries standard television broadcasts, and will be freed up when stations switch to all-digital broadcasting after February 17, 2009.

The spectrum is poised to become a conduit for high-speed telecommunications and Internet services delivered to mobile devices across the United States.

Carriers like the spectrum because signals travel long distances and penetrate buildings better than parts of the radio frequency spectrum they are now allowed to use.

Verizon bid 9.4 billion dollars for most of the licenses in the prime 700 MHz radio spectrum. AT&T won most of the regional licenses with bids totaling 6.6 billion dollars.

Meanwhile, Google’s top bid barely surpassed the 4.6-billion-dollar minimum requirement but the online search king won what it really wanted by making certain that spectrum owners can’t block out Internet or telecom rivals.

“Although Google didn’t pick up any spectrum licenses, the auction produced a major victory for American cons