Mobile, Dish, Comcast Emerge As FCC Auction Winners

Following the official end of its broadcast incentive auction, the FCC today announced that 957 stations will have to change channels to clear the spectrum sold to wireless carriers. (NYSE: VZ) is listed as not bidding a cent, and Sprint Corp.

He said T-Mobile spent the most, $8.0 billion, which "was about what we expected", while AT&T spent about $910M, a bit lower than he expected.

The FCC said the auction raised $7.3 billion to pay down the national debt. Besides T-Mobile, the MetroPCS pre-paid division of the company will also be taking advantage of the 600MHz frequency spectrum.

"It is encouraging to see that competitive carriers and potential new entrants secured the majority of the spectrum auctioned". When the auction formally ended on March 31st, it came with a total monetary investment by telecom companies of roughly $19.8 billion, but didn't tell us who were the big winners (and losers) from the event.

The No. 3 US carrier, Bellevue-based T-Mobile, was the largest bidder at nearly $8 billion.

AT&T made a small acquisition as part of the auction, paying $910 million for 23 licenses.

The FCC noted the 600 MHz incentive auction generated almost $7 billion for the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction; more than $10 billion of the proceeds will go to broadcasters that chose to relinquish spectrum usage rights; and up to $1.75 billion for other broadcasters that incur costs in changing channels. Dish Network was the second biggest victor, spending $6.2 billion and picking up 486 licenses across 416 economic areas. The FCC will now enter into a 39-month transition period in moving broadcast stations to newly assigned channels. By owning spectrum, Comcast could eventually build its own network and lease or buy additional airwaves to add capacity.

The FCC said that they will collect $19.8 billion in gross revenue, its second-highest return from a spectrum auction. All of these techniques and technologies promise to allow Verizon to more efficiently use the spectrum assets it already has.

"The conclusion of the world's first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC's long history as steward of the nation's airwaves", FCC boss Ajit Pai said of the auction. A prior reverse auction was held to encourage TV stations surrender the spectrum.

The auction is the first of its kind to repurpose TV spectrum for wireless services. Without low-band spectrum, it would be impossible to cover many regions of the US economically.

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