Satellite providers EchoStar Communications and DirecTV have ponied up nearly $1 billion and cable operators Comcast Corp. and Cox Communication have placed more than $600 million jointly to reserve seats at the auction.
Traditional mobile phone service providers including T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are also expected to bid for the 2,100 MHz spectrum.
"Both satellite and cable companies need to broaden their bases," said Joe Nordgaard, managing director of Spectral Advantage. "Cable companies already have a significant set of holdings into U.S. households. But they want a broader offering and 2,100 will provide some of that for them."
As for satellite companies, Nordgaard said they are in something of a bind, because their partners offering TV entertainment -- landline telephone companies -- are moving into the entertainment business by deploying fiber optic lines in their regions.