DBS, Net Firms Team Up on Auction Plan

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DirecTV and EchoStar Communications formed an alliance with Google, Intel, Yahoo and Skype in support of a national licensing plan for a pending federal spectrum auction expected to take in at least $10 billion, according to draft of the plan obtained by Multichannel News Tuesday.

The formation of the alliance doesn’t mean that the companies are going to bid together in the auction, which, by law, has to begin by Jan. 28, 2008. Instead, each alliance member has an interest in seeing that the Federal Communications Commission permits bidders to aggregate enough licenses to cover substantially all of the United States.

The 60 megahertz of spectrum up for auction is returning to the FCC as a result of TV broadcasters’ transition to digital-only transmission. Broadcasters won't require the same amount of bandwidth in total because digital signals are spectrally more efficient than analog airwaves.

Every full-power TV station is required to terminate analog TV service no later than Feb. 17, 2009. The analog cutoff would also allow public-safety entities to obtain 24 MHz of former analog-TV spectrum.