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In Brief

In what came as a little surprise, Dish Network has walked away with every one of the 176 spectrum licenses the Federal Communications Commission auctioned off in the PCS band last month, according to FCC documentation (pdf). And given that every other major carrier declined to participate, Dish walked away with those airwaves at the minimum reserve price of $1.56 billion. Dish now owns 10 MHz nationwide of the same airwaves carriers use in their 2G and 3G networks. It plans to couple those frequencies with the mobile broadband spectrum it owns in the neighboring satellite band to build its LTE network.

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Capitalizing on the growing angst over privacy in today’s surveillance state, virtual operator FreedomPop has started selling a smartphone that routes all data traffic over a secure VPN and uses 128-bit encryption for VoIP calls and IP messaging. The device, which FreedomPop has dubbed the “Snowden Phone,” is actually a Samsung Galaxy S2 loaded with security software from Private Communications Corporation, which FreedomPop is pairing with a 500 MB, unlimited talk and text plan for $10 a month. Customers can change phone numbers as often as they like and even pay for the phone and service anonymously with Bitcoin.

In Brief

Like an eBay listing for a vintage Def Leppard concert T-Shirt, the Federal Communications Commission’s first spectrum auction in six years reached its reserve price of $1.56 billion and then promptly came to a halt with no further bids. Given the lack of carrier interest in Auction 96 and the 10 MHz of PCS spectrum it offered, the lackluster result is hardly a shock. Nor are we likely going to be surprised by the winners when the FCC announces them next month. Dish Network had promised to bid the reserve price for this spectrum, and barring any surprises, it likely ran away with these airwaves.

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