Broadband Auction Garners $119M


A total of 10 bidders will pony up $119 million for spectrum slated for a new pay TV/broadband service that will compete with cable and direct-broadcast satellite.

Winners of the nine-day Federal Communications Commission auction, which concluded Tuesday, will receive licenses covering 192 U.S. markets. The biggest winning bidder was DTV Norwich, backed by cable giant Cablevision and former U.K. cable executive George Blumenthal, which paid $85 million for licenses covering the country's five largest markets and 41 others.

Next was, backed by DBS provider Echostar, with 37 licenses including Boston, Dallas, Washington, Detroit and Houston. bid $43 million but must pay only $28 million because its lead investor is entitled to a 35% bidding credit for small businesses. MDA America won the most licenses with 60, but needed to offer only $6 million for its mostly mid- and rural markets.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell said he was thrilled with the results of the bidding. "This successful auction will open up new opportunities for consumers," he said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to the exciting new products delivered by the various companies that won licenses in this auction."