So the US 700MHz auctions are over, except for the unloved D-Block.
What's changed? Well, there's no Google, that's for certain (no big surprise there, to be honest, I really couldn't see it wanting to hire 1000's of radio engineers). And AT&T, Verizon, Qualcomm & Frontier Wireless hoovered up most of the licences on offer. Although it should be interesting to see if the requirement for openness makes a meaningful difference.
According to the FCC, 99 bidders other than the current US incumbents took over 700 individual licences between them, meaning that at least in theory, there are potential new wireless broadband competitors in each regional US market.
I'll be honest & say I don't know much about Frontier, which is essentially now a nationwide spectrum owner.
But the one that caught my eye was Qualcomm. It cherry-picked some of the key US markets - Boston, NY, LA, SF & Silicon Valley, Philadelphia - with some hefty bids for B- (12MHz of paired spectrum - FDD) and E-Block (6 MHz unpaired - TDD) spectrum.
Now, it already owns some spectrum that underpins its Mediaflo TV platform. I'm wondering if, just maybe, it might extend that model towards its own unloved UMB evolution of its main cellular technology, which seems to have been sidelined by LTE and WiMAX in recent months. UMB can work in both FDD and TDD spectrum.
It could potentially develop a wholesale network, which could then host services from (say) ISPs for fixed-broadband, local government & public safety (who often have regional requirements not needing full national coverage), and various other channels. Yes, it would potentially compete with Sprint's WiMAX Xohm network in some cases - but this could help salvage UMB, which could have the side-effect of persuading some remaining CDMA waverers (notably KDDI in Japan) to take the plunge as well.
I'll readily admit that this is all speculation - it could just be it wants more Mediaflo spectrum, or perhaps there's another hidden plan I've missed. But I have a sneaking suspicion that UMB will raise its head again somewhere.
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