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Paul Allen Applies to Bid in Wireless Auction

A venture led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has applied to bid in an upcoming U.S. auction of coveted wireless airwaves, according to auction documents released late on Tuesday.

Allen was listed with an entity called Vulcan Spectrum LLC among the applicants who filed to bid in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction of 700-megahertz spectrum, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 24.

Allen heads an investment company called Vulcan Capital and is also a majority shareholder in U.S. cable operator Charter Communications.

Allen and Vulcan Spectrum were on a list of scores of potential bidders who filed applications ahead of a Dec. 3 FCC deadline. The list was made available on the FCC's Web site late on Tuesday.

The auction applicants also included, as expected, Internet leader Google and U.S. wireless providers AT&T and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group. Also listed was Qualcomm .

A Reuters search of the documents did not turn up any application by EchoStar Communications . There was speculation earlier this month that the satellite television
operator might apply to enter the auction. Representatives of EchoStar could not be reached for comment.

The FCC-run wireless auction is expected to take several weeks, with the spectrum to be auctioned off in several blocks.

The radio waves are being returned by broadcasters as they move from analog to digital signals early in 2009. The signals can go long distances and penetrate thick walls.

The auction is seen as a last opportunity for a new player to enter the wireless market. Google and other Silicon Valley leaders see the wireless spectrum as a way to create more open competition for mobile services and devices than those available on existing networks.

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