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VERIZON and AT&T were the big winners in the FCC’s 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction. Verizon Wireless will pay $9.4 billion for 109 licenses while AT&T will spend $6.6 billion for 227 licenses. Both companies are expected to use their newly-won spectrum to provide next-generation wireless Internet services and possibly some form of mobile TV. Dish Network also participated in the auction, spending $712 million for 168 licenses providing mostly one-way communication. Analysts believe that Dish may be planning a new video service. However, companies are barred from discussing their plans until down payments have been submitted. The deadline is April 3rd. Of course, the new spectrum will become available when analog television shuts down forever on February 17, 2009.
SONY will release a free update to the PS3 this month that adds the ability to download video, games and ring tones. The update will also install Blu-ray’s BD-Live functionality and wireless communication with PlayStation Portables. The PS3 will become the first Blu-ray player on the market with Internet access, offering a wide variety of downloadable movie trailers, bonus material and more. Meanwhile, Toshiba announced that its HD DVD flop will cost the company $1.1 billion.
ONLINE ADVERTISING is under attack in a new bill proposed by New York assemblyman Richard Brodsky. The bill would make it illegal for companies to track information about Internet users for advertising purposes without their consent. It would also require the choice to opt-out of targeted advertising based on web searches, browsing history and other private data. Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo are all sending lobbyists to Albany due to the growing support for the bill.
DIRECTV launched a new satellite that will allow it to offer 150 national HD channels and local HD channels in over 100 markets. It is expected to begin service this September. DirecTV will launch another satellite in 2009, providing support for up to 200 national HD channels. Of course, earlier this week Dish Network reported problems with its own satellite launch, which may hurt its performance in the growing battle for HD supremacy.
QUADRANT ONE received a major boost on Thursday, adding 26 newspaper companies to the online ad network of newspaper publishers. McClatchy and Media General were among the additions. QuadrantOne was started by the Tribune Co., Gannett, the New York Times Co. and Hearst Corp. to offer advertisers a one-stop-shop for placing ads in newspapers across the country. The new additions have doubled the network size, bringing it close to 250 newspapers. In related news, the Tribune Co. will reportedly offer Newsday up for sale. Bidders include Rupert Murdoch, The Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman and Cablevision’s Jim Dolan.