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Telecoms Poised To Land Most Spectrum Licenses

In the race to land as many of the 1,122 radio spectrum licenses as the FCC is selling, it looks like big telecom companies Cingular, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile will grab the majority of the available inventory. While many analysts thought Big Cable--Time Warner, Comcast, and Cox--would take advantage of the opportunity to ramp up their limited presence in the wireless business, their bids have thus far amounted to just $2.2 billion of $13.3 billion registered bids. Instead, more than 60 percent of the total has come from leading wireless providers; T-Mobile alone has bid nearly $4 billion. The biggest satellite companies--EchoStar and DirecTV, which were expected to bid aggressively--backed out of the FCC auction a few days ago, presumably to focus on WiMAX and other wireless technologies. Maybe they were scared off by big telecom. What gives? The FCC auction was supposed to be the great equalizer for those interested in expanding their wireless technology. Instead, "the kings of the hill defended the hill," says Roger Entner, a wireless analyst at telecom consulting firm Ovum. "The dream of another wave of new entrants has died." Make no mistake about it: building a wireless network is "prohibitively expensive," notes the newspaper. It's taken the telecom companies this long to get where they are--so cable and satellite outfits will be happy to let most of the spectrum go to the big telecoms. Cable companies want to shore up their piece of the pie, however, especially in major metro areas, so they can subscribers Wi-Fi hotspots as part of their cable Internet deals

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