Happy 'Wireless Spectrum Auction Day' everyone

fcc Well today’s the big day.

Here’s are some quick facts and figures about the auction, should you find yourself in the position of having to regale the guests at your next dinner party with tales of the FCC’s invisible goldmine.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle,

1. The spectrum being auctioned is in the 700Mhz airspace. It’s the current spectrum that over-the-air television signals currently use, so it’s relatively high-speed and can work through walls and all that good stuff. The TV signals will be removed in February of next year, when television goes all-digital. It’s expected that there won’t be another big auction like this for quite some time.

2. The FCC expects the entire spectrum to go for about $10 billion, divvied up into five blocks of 1,099 total licenses. The largest block is the C-block, the one that Google and Verizon and everyone else will be bidding on. It contains 12 large regional licenses.

3. Google has pledged $4.6 billion toward the C-block but isn’t expected to win. Analysts think that it just wanted to make sure that whoever wins pays at least $4.6 billion. Upon agreeing to pay the $4.6 billion reserve price, “Google successfully lobbied the FCC to add open requirements for the C-block that would require the owner to keep the network open to any application or device.” Potential bidders besides Google include Verizon, AT&T, Cox, EchoStar, and Alltel.

4. “Auction participants are prohibited from making public statements after filing their intent to participate. The spectrum auction will be conducted electronically over the coming weeks and will extend possibly into March.”

5. “Carlyn Taylor, a senior managing director with consultancy FTI and national leader of its communications and media practice, said she expects big players like Verizon and AT&T to scoop up most of the spectrum licenses, potentially as a defensive maneuver against competitors. But she said there is still an outside chance that Google could win the spectrum and team with a company like WiMax provider Clearwire to build a national network.” The big question is whether or not Google wants to become a wireless provider. And what happens if Google wins but doesn’t want to be a provider?

FCC broadband spectrum auction starts today [SFGate.com]