Apple Could Enter FCC Wireless Auction

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Apple Inc. is considering entering the massive wireless auction that will be conducted by the FCC on January 16th, 2008, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing two unnamed sources, the magazine reported that Apple management is considering joining the auction for the spectrum currently used for analog TV broadcasts, spectrum that will be handed back to the FCC in 2009. The auction is already the subject of interest for Google, TiVo, various and sundry telephone and cable companies, and other communications companies.

BusinessWeek editor Peter Burrows said that Apple could be interested in developing its own Internet access service with a successful bid, build its own iPhone-related network, or even develop a network for media and data services relating to iTunes, the Mac platform, iPhone, and iPod. All of those possibilities are speculation, however.

Apple has more than US$14 billion in cash and short term investments in its war-chest, and the FCC has set a minimum bid of $4.6 billion for interested parties. The report said that a winning bid is likely to be in the $9 billion range.

The spectrum to be auctioned could well be developed into a wireless network no matter who wins the auction. According to the article, the 700 MHz spectrum, part of the spectrum to be auctioned, could provide faster Internet access than even the fastest WiFi network today, and will pass through buildings, work in bad weather, and otherwise provide a cornucopia of bandwidth goodness.

The report said that Apple is leaning against joining the auction process "at this point," but that Steve Jobs and his management team have studied the implications of doing so.

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