The FCC's 700 MHz spectrum auction heated up Tuesday, with current high bids topping $6 billion total. With eight rounds of bidding complete, the 967 available licenses are commanding $6.1 in total bids, according to RCR Wireless News. This chunk of bandwidth became available thanks to the move from analog to digital television, which freed up a bunch of spectrum in the 700 MHz range.
The most lucrative of the auction lots is a package of eight "C-Block" licenses which contains the most bandwith and is broken into the fewest regions. This, the C Block would be the easiest to convert into full nationwide 700 MHz band coverage.
Also garnering interest is the reserve price set on the Block. If bidding reaches $4.6 billion, the "open access network" provision will kick in, requiring the winning bidder to create an open network allowing any compatible device to connect. This provision has fueled much speculation that Google will bid the auction up to the reserve point, thus opening up some spectrum for Google-supported devices no matter who winds up with the contract.
Due to the FCC's closed-bidding process, it's impossible to know who's bid how much on what until the auction is closed. Analysts, bloggers, and this one guy I ride the bus with have been speculating that Google and Verizon Wireless will ultimately duke it out for the C Block.
Read the latest over at RCR Wireless News from here.
For more on the auction process itself, check out Engadget Mobile's summary from here.