FCC gets $10 billion minimum for wireless auction — but who is Triad?

updated with info on who is behind Triad

The Federal Communications Commission has gotten bids for more than the minimum of $10 billion it had set for its 700-megahertz spectrum auction, and there’s word that AT&T has been an active bidder.

Google and Verizon are also assumed to be bidding on a chunk of the spectrum. The auction is significant, and closely watched in technology circles, because it could open up innovation in the wireless industry — providing the chance to a provider like Google to bypass the powerful carriers.

One of the relatively unknown accepted bidders in the auction, Triad 700, of Silicon Valley (Burlingame, Calif.), however, has quietly raised $90 million from investors, VentureBeat has learned, but neither the company nor its investors are returning our calls. The $90 million is a piddling for the billions of dollars that are needed to bid successfully in this auction, but perhaps the company is leveraging it with debt. Triad’s backers are traditional venture capital firms, including Battery Ventures, Highland Capital, Ignition Venture Partners and M/C Venture Partners. Anybody know anything more about this company?

Update: The rumors are rolling in. One source says Triad is run by Sanjiv Ahuja, former chief executive of Orange; we haven’t confirmed.

Update II: Dan Primack follows up, and finds that the Triad principals are Barry Lewis, Craig Viehweg and John Mason, who once were part of the executive team at rural operator Triad Cellular, a Silicon Valley company bought last year by Western Wireless. They’ve participated in nine spectrum auctions, according to Primack.