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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

July 3, 2006 at 11:36 AM

Wireless auction on schedule

Lost in the shuffle of news last week was an important ruling by the U.S. appeals court.

Reuters reported that the court refused to delay the August sale of valuable wireless airwaves despite concerns raised by some smaller carriers. Council Tree Communications and others had sought a stay to block the auction from starting until the court could rule on eligibility discounts.

The FCC is scheduled to begin the auction Aug. 9. The sale is estimated to raise $8 billion to $15 billion. The airwaves up for sale are good for rolling out broadband wireless services, like 3G, which provide DSL-like transmission rates.

A lot of heavy-hitters are expected to participate, including T-Mobile USA, the only major U.S. carrier who hasn’t started to provide 3G. In fact, it was T-Mobile that asked the court not to delay the auction, saying there’s too much at stake in the long-planned sale.

Others that could participate are Microsoft, TimeWarner, News Corp. and Kirkland-based Clearwire, which is headed by Craig McCaw.

The court ruling had to do with eligibility — what companies would qualify for a discount of up to 25 percent. The deal is designed to encourage smaller companies to participate. However, some have struck partnerships with national carriers.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said Council Tree and the other petitioners failed to establish that they would suffer irreparable harm without a delay, and other bidders have indicated a willingness to participate despite the new restrictions.

If you can understand FCC lingo, there’s plenty more information about the auction here.

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