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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.

January 24, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Wireless auction started this morning

The wireless auction that is selling off a swath of highly coveted airwaves started this morning with a flurry of activity — more than $2.4 billion in bids during the opening round.

But this is not like a bankruptcy auction, where people show up on the steps of a building and raise their hands to place a bid. Rather the whole thing takes place online — in secret.

Click here and then click on “View Auction Results” and you can see the clock countdown on the time left during a given round. You can even see what bids have been placed, but the entire process is anonymous.

A Reuters story reports that the $2.4 billion bid so far represents the highest received for five separate blocks of spectrum. The federal government should be able to raise at least $10 billion from the sale.

Bidders will be kept secret until the auction is completed.

It’s worth noting in particular that the “D” Block received a $472 million bid. That is the section of airwaves that must be shared with public safety and has a number of likely expensive requirements. Some wondered whether there would be any demand for that swath after Frontline Wireless — which lobbied on behalf of such requirements — failed to qualify for the auction.

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