Cablevision Files to Bid in 700-MHz Auction

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Cablevision Systems has put in the paperwork to bid in the Federal Communications Commission’s 700-Megahertz auction in January, representing the second cable operator besides Cox Communications that could pick up some wireless spectrum.

“We have filed the necessary forms to reserve our right to participate in the auction if we choose to,” Cablevision spokeswoman Kim Kerns said.

Cox confirmed that it plans to bid without partners, while Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications said they will not participate.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless -- the country’s two biggest wireless carriers -- will bid, and analysts expect them to be particularly aggressive. Analysts speculate that EchoStar Communications will be a bidder as well; the company declined to comment.

Others that have thrown in their hats for a shot at the 700-MHz spectrum include Leap Wireless, MetroPCS and Google, which lobbied the FCC successfully to change certain rules for the auction. The so-called open access rule requires the winner of the C-Block of spectrum to allow customers to use any application and any mobile device on its network if the winning bid tops $4.6 billion.

Companies that have confirmed they will not participate include Sprint Nextel, DirecTV and Clearwire.

The 700-MHz spectrum is being made available as a result of the government-mandated switchover for local TV stations to discontinue analog broadcasts by Feb. 17, 2009. The FCC is auctioning off 62 MHz of spectrum in the band, which is considered valuable because it supports long-range transmission and can be used for voice, video and data.

The auction is set to begin Jan. 24.

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