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Asian companies enter war for American wireless

updated 01:10 pm EST, Tue December 11, 2007

Asia in 700MHz auction

Four Asian companies appear to be getting involved with the FCC auction for the 700MHz wireless spectrum, the Wall Street Journal reports. The biggest is Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo, which may put forward a bid worth $5 billion or more to expand its business internationally. The company already has a minor presence in the US, but does not sell any of the phones or advanced cellular services it is famous for in Japan. The company's main rival -- KDDI -- is likewise rumored to be interested in greater US access, since it is already testing a cellular service in the northeast.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government acquired a $3 billion stake in the Blackstone Group, a multinational equity corporation which has in turn invested with T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telecom, and US cell tower operator Global Tower Partners. China may thus benefit from the FCC auction regardless of who wins.

The last of the four companies is Korean carrier SK Telecom, which recently (but unsuccessfully) co-bid for a $5 billion share of Sprint Nextel. SK recently came to the rescue of American MVNO Helio, injecting an extra $270 million into the company on top of partial ownership.

How well Asian companies may do is debatable, as the auction is expected to be crowded with powerful Western rivals, such as Google, Verizon, and possibly even iPhone maker Apple. [via The Inquirer]

by MacNN Staff



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