Winstar Wins 39-GHz Auction with $161M Bid

BOSTON (05/09/2000) - Winstar Communications Inc. in New York topped a field of 35 bidders in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction for fixed wireless spectrum. Winstar intends to use the airwaves for local telephone company bypass service, offering to pay $161 million for 931 licenses serving the top 60 U.S. markets.

FCC Chairman William Kennard said in a statement that the 39-GHz auction completed yesterday "has inserted 2,173 new fixed wireless licenses into the marketplace. Winning bidders have the potential to create robust competition to the local telephone companies and other local service providers. This should result in lower prices and more choices for consumers."

Coudersport, Pennsylvania-based Adelphia Business Solutions Inc. (formerly Hyperion Communications) ranked just behind Winstar in the 39-GHz sweepstakes, offering with a winning bid of $77.6 million for 352 licenses. Advanced Radio Telecommunications Inc. in Bellevue Washington, won 352 licenses with a net bid of $77.6 million. The FCC raised a total of $410 million from the auction.

David Hawley, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, called 39 GHz a "sweet spot" of the frequency spectrum that would serve well to "provide last-mile broadband access" for users seeking alternatives to local telephone companies.

Fixed-wireless customers typically get their "last-mile" connections through the installation of small rooftop antennae that hook them into a long-distance carrier or Internet service provider - a process that Hawley said can make for a speedier hookup than waiting for the local phone company to install a wired high-speed line.

"These companies are looking to provide T1 service and up'' over the new frequency spectrum, Hawley said.

Winstar, which has already amassed a portfolio of fixed wireless licenses that it says makes it the largest player in the market, said the new 39-GHz spectrum will give it "unrivaled depth of coverage" in the top 60 U.S. markets.

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