Since I couldn't shoehorn this into eitehr of the individual provider sections.....from my mailbag this morning.

In continuing coverage from previous briefings, the Washington Post (3/21, D1, Kang) reports on the front page of its Business section that "Verizon Wireless was the biggest winner in [the] federal auction of wireless airwaves." The telecommunications company "agreed to deploy a nationwide network that will give consumers more ways to use their cell phones and other wireless devices." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "adopted rules requiring the winning bidder to build a network giving users more open access to the network." According to some analysts, "[t]he openness rules could encourage more innovation, such as better video access over cell phones or home refrigerators that automatically order groceries online over a wireless network."

The New York Times (3/21, C3, Hansell) adds, "The two largest cell phone service providers -- Verizon Wireless and AT&T -- won a greater swath of radio spectrum in the government auction that ended this week, heading off new competition that could have led to lower prices for consumers."

On the front of its Marketplace section, the Wall Street Journal (3/21, B1, Sharma, Schatz) notes that both companies, by "dominat[ing] the...recent auction of radio spectrum," are now "in a commanding position to roll out advanced wireless Internet services to consumers in coming years." The two carriers "accounted for 80 percent of the nearly $20 billion the [FCC] said it hauled in through the auction." AT&T Inc. pledged "to pay $6.6 billion for 227 spectrum licenses in markets covering much of the country," while Verizon "won 109 licenses for $9.4 billion." The FCC "and technology companies were hoping a major new entrant would emerge from the auction to compete with the national carriers."

USA Today (3/21, 3B, Davidson) notes, "Public-interest advocates had hoped Google, a potential bidder in the auction that championed the open-access mandate, would win the C-block, forging a new national wireless rival."

The AP (3/21) adds that "Google posted a bid for the C-block licenses early in the auction, assuring that the open-access provision would be put in place, but the offer was not enough." Bloomberg (3/21, Peterson), BusinessWeek (3/21, Ante), Forbes (3/21, Woyke), the AFP (3/21), the Los Angeles Times 's Bit Player blog (3/21), and the San Francisco Chronicle 's Tech blog (3/20, Kim) also cover the story.

Google's auction loss seen as a possible win. Reuters (3/21, Auchard) reports that "Google Inc.'s losing bid for coveted wireless airwaves may prove a victory for the Web search leader as it still stands to get access to mobile networks without spending tens of billions of dollars to build one, analysts said on Thursday." Google "has succeeded in forcing open network requirements upon winning bidder Verizon Communications via Google's apparent strategy of 'bidding to lose.'" Now, "Verizon will control the open network but will be required to allow devices and applications from other companies to use it." Reuters notes that Google's participation in the auction "is credited with helping to drive up the price Verizon paid to win a nationwide wireless license."

Consumer watchdogs, lawmakers call for investigation of FCC auction. Reuters (3/21, Kaplan) reports that "consumer groups are asking regulators to investigate why" the auction "failed to draw enough bids to kick-start plans for a new private wireless network to be shared with public safety agencies." A coalition of nine watchdog organizations "sent a letter to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to look into allegations that the auction of the 'D' block portion of the spectrum had been thwarted by demands made on behalf of public safety agencies."

In addition, "House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) and telecommunications subcommittee chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) are already planning a hearing for early next month" regarding the matter, CNet (3/21, Reardon) adds. "FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has asked the agency's inspector general to look into complaints about the D-block auction."
From NSPE