Hugh Pickens writes "Monday was the deadline for potential bidders to file with the Federal Communications Commission over the auction of the 700-megahertz band, a useful swath of the electromagnetic spectrum that is being freed up by the move to digital television. Once bidders file they become subject to strict "anticollusion" rules that in effect prohibit participants from discussing any aspect of their bidding until the auction is over and explains why Google announced Friday that it was going to bid in the auction because it can't discuss its bidding once it files to participate. The next official word will be late December or mid-January, when the FCC announces who has been approved to bid. The auction will start on January 24. Participants will use an Internet system to enter bids on any of 1,099 separate licenses that are being offered (pdf). Most coveted seems to be the C block, 12 regional licenses that can be combined to create a national wireless network. This is the spectrum Google is presumed to be most interested in. The bidding will be conducted in a series of rounds, and the commission will announce the amount of the high bid for each license at the end of each round but it will not identify the high bidder (pdf pages 10 — 14). Then the winning bidder will have ten days to put up 20 percent of the amount it bid. After that, the winner is allowed to discuss its bids publicly and negotiate with potential partners, such as losing bidders who may want to get in on the action but the winner only has ten more days to make deals before it has to pay the rest of the money it bid."