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Bidding on the Future Of Cellular Services

The U.S. government announced last month it was vacating a swath of spectrum, which it would put it on the auction block, perhaps this coming June.

The government estimates auctioning the spectrum will more than recoup the $936 million it will cost to relocate the wireless services of more 2200 systems spread across 12 federal agencies. While the U.S. Commerce Department won’t speculate how much the auction will generate, the last major spectrum auction raised more than $2 billion.

But is the 1710-1755 MHz portion of spectrum that the government will make available, which it described as "beach-front" property, really that desirable for cellular operators? And what will all this mean for cellular users in terms of wireless services and prices?

Are Cellcos Motivated?

In real estate parlance, the government might be a motivated seller. Like a home owner who buys a new house before selling his or her current homestead, the U.S. government needs cellular companies to purchase the spectrum in order to pay to relocate federal agencies now inhabiting the radio waves. But if the government holds an auction, will bidders show up? The experts agree: maybe yes, maybe no.

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