Who wants some wireless spectrum?

Beyond Google and the big wireless carriers, there are some unlikely bidders in the FCC's 700MHz spectrum auction.

As News.com's Maggie Reardon has told us, the FCC's ongoing 700MHz auction is proceeding along, albeit a bit slower than the FCC would like.

Much has been made about Google's entry into the bidding process (as Google Airwaves), but the tech giant is hardly the only company onboard. As a review, the other big bidders include AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, U.S. Cellular, Leap Wireless, MetroPCS, Alltel, and Qualcomm. Also on the list is Vulcan Ventures, which is controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It's also interesting to see who's sitting out the auction. T-Mobile is not participating, perhaps because the carrier says it already has the spectrum it needs to launch its promised 3G network, nor are Sprint Nextel, Comcast, or Time Warner. Also, it appears that Apple is not bidding, even though it was suggested last autumn that the company was interested in joining the auction.

Unlike in previous auctions, the FCC is not identifying the names of top bidders at the close of each round. Yet, a look at the full list of bidders does reveal a few interesting tidbits. Chevron was one company I didn't expect to see. The idea of an oil company clamoring for wireless spectrum certainly seems a bit odd until you realize that one of the FCC's Cellular Market Areas (PDF) covers the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe it's because Chevron has a few oil rigs in the area that might need to communicate back to the mainland. Or on the other hand, it could be another reason entirely but it's unlikely that Chevron would start its own wireless network. Like Google, I would guess it just wants to own some spectrum. As for the other bidders, it's clear most are communications firms but a few cryptically named entrants caught me eye. There's The World Company (only the world and not the universe too?), I-700 LLC (that sounds like an interstate highway), Continuum 700 LLC, and the 585 Consortium. Five individuals are also the bidding list. They include David Miller, Scott D. Reiter, Jack E. Robinson, Thomas K. Kurian, and Laurence B. Glass (perhaps related to George Glass?). What those folks plan to do with the spectrum if they indeed win is beyond me.

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