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Predicting FCC Mobile Broadband Auctions

Don't expect high prices in next month's auction of spectrum earmarked for mobile broadband, according to speakers during a Kagan Research audio conference. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will auction 90 MHz in the 1.7-2.1 GHz band called AWS � Advanced Wireless Services.

The forecast is for disciplined pricing because large swathes of spectrum are available, the bellwether pre-auction trading of spectrum in private transactions is restrained and more spectrum auctions are coming. Bruce Falkenberg, founder of wireless financier Falkenberg Capital, expects only "the usual suspects" to be buyers � national cell phone carriers, regional carriers and some speculators.

"Although many believe that AWS bidding will be disciplined, the prospect of acquiring a national footprint could be enticing to numerous non-traditional spectrum auction bidders � such as cable operators, media conglomerates and Internet players," noted John Mansell, Kagan senior analyst and co-moderator of the panel.

"Deal-making and private market values in the neighboring 2.3GHZ and 2.5GHz bands have been on the rise," Mansell continued. "Craig McCaw's Clearwire just registered for an IPO to raise up to $400 million, which comes on top of the $1.1 billion Clearwire already raised in the private market. Also, economists specializing in 'game theory' are fully employed."

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