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FCC Reveals Auction Bidders

The FCC on Tuesday unveiled the names of those who plan to bid on the 700 MHz spectrum that goes up for auction on January 24. Google was among the 266 companies named, along with big phone companies like AT&Y and Verizon Wireless. Other interesting bidders are Vulcan Spectrum, a company started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Cablevision, EchoStar and Qualcomm.

Everyone will be watching Google, which wants the ability to offer its Android operating system to mobile users cheaply or even, for free, but Qualcomm's participation is particularly interesting, given that the telecom giant already owns so much spectrum. Qualcomm has been building a video broadcast network, which AT&T and Verizon have licensed to deliver video to cell phones. It may be looking to strengthen the network's capacity.

Auction 73 will be the most watched FCC spectrum auction in history. The implications for the mobile wireless industry are huge, as the winner of the "C" block of spectrum will be forced to leave those airwaves open to users of any mobile device. Currently, U.S. consumers are locked into buying a handset that operates on one network and uses software controlled by that network's operator. However, both Verizon Wireless and AT&T have announced measures to gradually open their networks.

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