Doerr, Barksdale on the Frontline

The upcoming land grab over analog TV spectrum is getting more high profile investors. The New York Times says that John Doerr, James Barksdale and Vanu Bose have joined the investment group behind Frontline Wireless, a wireless venture focusing on public safety and open access led by former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt.

Frontline plans to bid on the soon-to-be-available 700 MHZ spectrum (our handy cheat sheet here) with 12 MHz of public safety spectrum, and 10 MHz of commercial spectrum. The company has already announced that Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Ventures and an early Google investor, is also an investor.

With the incumbent U.S. carriers holding much of the valuable spectrum and thus the wireless subscription revenues, its no surprise that any fresh spectrum is being greeted with a wave of investment. Doerr, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, also invested in wireless venture M2Z, and told the NYT: “I think we’re starved for spectrum for digital applications in this country.”

Doerr and Barksdale both invested in @Home, the famous failed Internet, cable network, and Netscape. Like their investment in @Home, placing bets on wireless spectrum and an alternative national wireless network involves a lot of money and significant risks. According to some estimates, the cost of building a nationwide wireless network over the 700 MHz spectrum could be as high as $2 billion.