Two Wireless Companies Dominate Airwaves Auctions, Alltel Not One

Though Alltel Corp. participated in the Federal Communications Commission's 700-megahertz airwaves auction that closed March 18, the wireless company did not come away with any more tech real estate.

"At the prices the spectrum sold for, Alltel believes we have other alternatives to execute our business plan," said company spokesman Scott Morris. He wouldn't divulge the company's alternate course(s) of action.

The airwaves sold on Tuesday represented the television bandwidth that will be vacated February 2009 with the all-inclusive segue to digital television.

The FCC cleaned up with a total $19.12 billion in gross winning bids, a historic record for FCC auctions. Airwaves of 700-MHz are considered valuable because they penetrate thick walls and travel long distances, allowing wireless companies to capitalize on rural markets especially.

Verizon Wireless won the majority of the popular C Block, a segment of 22 MHz bandwidth and 12 licenses. The reserve price for the block dwarfed the other four blocks at about $4.6 billion, the rest of which lingered between $1 billion and $2 billion.

AT&T was the other big winner, according to an FCC spokesman, with a winning bid of about $6.6 billion.

Aristotle Inc., a Little Rock web design company and wireless provider, made and appearance and bid, but came nowhere close to winning. The company couldn't be reached for comment.

The only portion of the airwaves that did not sell was the D block, used by police, fire and other first responders to emergencies. The minimum bid of $1.3 billion wasn't reached. The FCC will decide how, when or even whether to re-auction the portion of airwaves.

Other companies doing business in Arkansas taking home some spectrum include: Cox Wireless Inc., which nabbed a portion with a winning bid of $304.5 million, and CenturyTel Broadband Wireless LLC, which won its share with a bid of
$148.9 million.