Juicy 700MHz Auction Developments: Google Punked Out?

While the hot and heavy 700MHz a(u)ction is anonymously taking place behind closed doors, we do know a couple of big things have happened. That potential winning bid from Thursday was punked down by a surprise total bid of $4.74 billion. This is juicy because it indicates Google has probably been outbid—assuming it was the party that pushed the bid past the $4.6 billion open access reserve, as it had promised—most likely by Verizon, using some slightly complicated rule shuffling with the regional licenses comprising the block.

As Saul Hansell points out, if we see the bidding continue to escalate, it indicates that Google might actually be playing to win (though it's doubtful), as long what we're seeing isn't an influx of bidders locked out of the B block pool by rocketing prices—driven up, no doubt, by big telcos looking to patch up holes in their 700MHz network.

Like say, AT&T, whose purchase of $2.5 billion worth of 700MHz spectrum licenses back in October finally got the FCC rubber stamp earlier today. Regardless, the picture will start getting clearer a lot quicker as of tomorrow, when the auction moves into the higher stakes phase 2, where entrants are basically forced to bid hard and fast. [Bits, PC World]