Part IIb — Who's Who in 700 MHz: the Experienced Actors

Now we turn our attention to the more experienced potential bidders in Auction 73 for the 700 MHz Band. All have participated in either one or more of the three Lower 700 MHz auctions (44, 49, or 60) or the AWS-1 auction (66).

The Big Guys

Cellco Partnership, Verizon Wireless’ bidding entity, spent a whopping $2,808,599,000 in the AWS-1 auction for 13 licenses and comes to Auction 73 well positioned to bid for the C Block REAGs and possibly the D Block nationwide license.

MetroPCS 700 MHz, LLC, is the bidding entity for cellular telco MetroPCS, which spent $1,391,410,000 in the AWS-1 auction for 8 licenses. MetroPCS appears to be looking to establish national footprint and will be a strong contender in C Block, and likely using A and B Blocks to fill in coverage gaps.

Cricket Licensee 2007, LLC, spent $710,214,000 for 99 licenses in AWS-1; Denali Spectrum License, LLC, spent $274,083,750 for one license in AWS-1. Both are owned by LEAP Wireless; if their AWS-1 pattern holds, expect them to be mainly active in A and B Blocks, pushing to achieve national footprint, although Cricket may be a C Block contender.

The incredulity expressed by some of the trade press over the application of tech company QUALCOMM,Inc., to participate in the 700 MHz auction seems odd given the fact that QUALCOMM achieved nearly-national footprint in a Lower 700 MHz auction by spending $38,036,000 for five EA licenses. QUALCOMM is positioned to flesh out national footprint in the A and B Blocks or to become a C Block contender.

Cincinnati Bell Wireless, LLC, is the wireless subsidiary of a regional CLEC which spent $37,071,000 for 9 licenses in AWS-1. Expect Cincinnati Bell Wireless to concentrate in the B Block CMAs to reinforce regional coverage.

Bluewater Wireless, L.P., is Aloha Partners’ Charles Townsend’s new stalking horse. Townsend and Aloha Partners spent $34,853,070 in the three Lower 700 MHz auctions amassing the largest bundle of spectrum in the auctions, which they have sold to AT&T for $2.5 billion. Bet on Townsend trying to recapitulate that coup, probably in the A and B Blocks, but Aloha Partners got completely frozen out in the AWS-1 auction, partly by blocking bidding by incumbents, partly because Townsend was unwilling to bid high enough where he wasn’t facing concerted blocking. Auction 73 is shaping up to be more costly than AWS-1, and I doubt that Bluewater Wireless is going to be able to pick up nearly as much spectrum on the cheap as it did in the Lower 700 MHz auctions.

Cellular South Licenses, Inc., the bidding entity for cellular telco Cellular South, spent $33,025,000 for 12 licenses in AWS-1. Look for Cellular South to continue to cover gaps in footprint in the A and B Bocks, although it may compete for some C Block REAGs.

Cavalier Wireless, LLC, spent $23,572,350 amassing 51 licenses in the Lower 700 MHz auctions and 30 licenses in AWS-1. Cavalier may try to establish national footprint or concentrate on firming up its regional dominance.

Vulcan Spectrum, LLC, spent $15,075,000 gaining 24 Lower 700 MHz licenses; Bend Cable Communications, LLC, spent $528,000 on 2 AWS-1 licenses. Both are investments of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. They concentrated on obtaining spectrum in the Washington-Oregon region of the Northwest in Lower 700 MHz and AWS-1, but Allen’s deep pockets make Vulcan in particular a potential C Block contender as well as aspiring for regional coverage consolidation in the A and B Blocks.

Cox Wireless, Inc., was part of the SpectrumCo coalition which gained 137 licenses for $2,377,609,000 in AWS-1, as was part of the Advance/Newhouse Partnership. However, the real powerhouses in SpectrumCo — Comcast, Time Warner, and Sprint/Nextel — decided to sit the 700 MHz auction out. However, Cox’s cable TV operations and Advance/Newhouse’s resources as a newspaper, magazine, and cable TV conglomerate position both of them to be significant bidders for the A, B, and C Blocks.

More below…

The Rural Telcos

The largest pool of experienced bidders is rural telcos: Agri-Valley Communications, Inc. (9 Lower 700 MHz licenses, 5 AWS icenses), BEK Communications Cooperative (2 Lower 700 MHz, 2 AWS), Blanca Telephone Company (1 Lower 700 MHz), Blue Valley Tele-Communications, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz, 2 AWS), BPS Telephone Company (1 Lower 700 MHz, 1 AWS), Central Wisconsin Communications, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz), Chariton Valley Communication Corporation, Inc. (6 Lower 700 MHz, 2 AWS), Chequamegon Communications Cooperative, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz, 3 AWS), Churchill County Telephone d/b/a CC Communications (2 AWS), Command Connect, LLC (5 AWS), ComSouth Cellular, Inc. (0 Lower 700 MHz), Cross Telephone Company, LLC (0 Lower 700 MHz, 3 AWS), Ellijay Telephone Company (0 AWS), Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. (1 AWS), Farmers Telephone Company, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz), Fidelity Communications Company (7 AWS), FMTC Wireless, Inc. (2 AWS),FTC Management Group, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz, 2 AWS), Glenwood Telephone Membership Corporation (3 Lower 700 MHz), Granite State Long Distance, Inc. (0 AWS), H & B Communications, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz), Hemingford Cooperative Telephone Company (11 AWS), Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (1 AWS), James Valley Cooperative Telephone Company (1 AWS), Kingdom Telephone Company (1 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS),KTC AWS Limited Partnership (11 AWS), LCDW Wireless Limited Partnership (1 AWS), Lexcom, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz), Ligtel Communications, Inc. (0 Lower 700 MHz, 2 AWS), MAC Wireless, LLC (0 AWS), Manti Telephone Company (5 AWS), Mediapolis Telephone Company (2 AWS), Midwest AWS Limited Partnership (1 AWS), MTA Communications, Inc. (3 AWS), Muenster Telephone Corporation of Texas (0 AWS), New Ulm Telecom, Inc. (0 Lower 700 MHz), North Dakota Network Company (1 Lower 700 MHz, 3 AWS), Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company (1 AWS), Northeast Nebraska Telephone Company (2 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS), Northern New Mexico Telecom, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz), NSIGHTTEL Wireless, LLC (5 AWS), Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (2 AWS), Panhandle Telecommunication Systems, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS), Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (3 AWS), Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (4 Lower 700 MHz), Rainbow Telecommunications Association, Inc. (3 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS), Red River Rural Telephone Association, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz), Redwood Wireless Corp. (17 Lower 700 MHz), Ronan Telephone Company (3 Lower 700 MHz), Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz), Sandhill Communications, LLC (1 AWS), Swayzee Telephone Co. Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz), The Chillicothe Telephone Company (0 AWS), The S&T Telephone Cooperative Association, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz, 2 AWS), The Tri-County Telephone Association, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS), Three River Telco (1 AWS), Tri-Valley Communications, LLC (0 AWS), Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (3 Lower 700 MHz), Van Buren Wireless, Inc. (0 AWS), West Wisconsin Telcom Cooperative, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz), Whidbey Telephone Company (10 Lower 700 MHz), and WWW Broadband, LLC (0 AWS). Expect them to concentrate as they did in the Lower 700 MHz and AWS-1 auctions on consolidating footprint over existing coverage area in B Block.

Cable TV

Five companies primarily in the CATV business, although most off triple-play, are returning to compete in the 700 MHz auction CenturyTel Broadband Wireless, LLC (6 AWS licenses), C&W Enterprises, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz, 1 AWS), Innovative Communication Corporation (2 AWS), Northern Iowa Communications Partners, LLC (0 AWS), and LL License Holdings, LLC (8 AWS). Expect them to concentrate on consolidating footprint in their existing coverage areas in the B Block and, to a lesser extent, A Block.

CLECs

Eighteen CLECs are experienced potential entrants in Auction 73: Iowa Telecommunications Services, Inc. (15 AWS licenses), Union Telephone Company (16 Lower 700 MHz and 8 AWS), Public Service Wireless Services, Inc. (4 Lower 700 MHz, 7 AWS), Central Texas Telephone Investments, LP (5 AWS), Vermont Telephone Company, Inc. (5 Lower 700 MHz, 3 AWS), CTC Telcom, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz, 1 AWS), West Carolina Communications, LLC (3 AWS), Grand River Communication, Inc. (12 Lower 700 MHz, 1 AWS), Comporium Wireless, LLC (1 AWS), Adams Telcom, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz), Kaplan Telephone Company, Inc. (2 Lower 700 MHz), Poka Lambro Telecommunications, LTD (3 Lower 700 MHz), McDonald County Telephone Company (1 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS), The Pioneer Telephone Association, Inc. (1 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS), ACS Wireless License Sub, Inc. (0 AWS), Lackawaxen Long Distance Company, Inc. (4 Lower 700 MHz), Chester Telephone Company (1 AWS), and Iowa Intelegra Consortium, LLC (0 AWS). Expect these bidders to concentrate on the B Block to consolidate local coverage footprint.

Eleven cellular telcos are likewise experienced potential entrants: Bluegrass Wireless, LLC (10 Lower 700 MHz), Pine Cellular Phones, Inc. (2 AWS), United Wireless Communications, Inc. (13 Lower 700 MHz, 0 AWS), Guam Cellular & Paging (1 Lower 700 MHz), Green Hills Area Cellular Telephone, Inc. (1 AWS), McBride Spectrum Partners, LLC (5 Lower 700 MHz), Northwest Missouri Cellular Limited Partnership (1 AWS), WUE, Inc. (1 AWS), SAL Spectrum, LLC ( 2 Lower 700 MHz), Sierra Cellular, Inc. (0 Lower 700 MHz), and Triad 700, LLC (5 AWS). As with the CLECs, expect these bidders to concentrate on the B Block CMAs to consolidate and enhance coverage of local and regional footprint, although some may show some A Block EA interests, particularly Triad. Triad may also become a C Block competitor, although it is unlikely to prevail against AT&T, Verizon, or Google.

ISPs

Two traditional ISPs have returned for Auction 73: Mt. Vernon.Net Inc. (1 AWS) and Sierra Advantage, Inc. (4 Lower 700 MHz). Look for them to consolidate local coverage footprint in the B Block.

Media and Tech Companies

Lynch Wireless Broadband Company, LLC, the bidding entity for Lynch Interactive Corporation, a holding company with subsidiaries in telecommunications and multimedia which spent $2,223,000 for 12 Lower 700 MHz licenses and 1 AWS license, will likely continue to concentrate on building regional footprint in B Block CMAs matching and expanding current footprint. SeaBytes, LLC, associated with LWL Inc., a radio, TV, and wireless equipment manufacturer, struck out in the Lower 700 MHz auctions and will be trying to get back into the game, but won’t be a major player.

Individuals

Scott D. Reiter, who spent $84,500 for one Lower 700 MHz license, will be back to compete in Auction 73.

WTF?

A less interesting pair of entrants make the WTF list among the experienced potential entrants: PCS Partners, LP (0 AWS), VentureTel 700, Inc. (0 Lower 700 MHz). They make the WTF category mainly because of the paucity of information about them, a real feat for bidders in prior auctions.

Coming next: Part III, Bidding Strategies of the Major Actors…

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4 Comments

  1. John says:

    For those of you just joining this discussion, the earlier posts in the series are here:

    http://www.wetmachine.com/e
    http://www.wetmachine.com/e
    http://www.wetmachine.com/e

  2. Scott D Reiter says:

    Yes I bought one Lower 700 MHz license for $84,500 in Auction 49, and one in Auction 73. Why the interest?
    Does WTF mean what I think it means?

  3. Greg says:

    Scott, yes, WTF in this context means “Who the Fuck?” — a category for bidders in previous auctions about whom virtually nothing is publicly known. This blog series was profiling bidders in Auction 73.

  4. Scott D Reiter says:

    Well then, I’m glad that I didn’t make the “WTF” category…

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