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AT&T emerges as big winner in FCC spectrum auction

AT&T emerges as big winner in FCC spectrum auction


Dish, Verizon also spent billions

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Yesterday, the Federal Communication Commission revealed that it took in a record $44.9 billion in bids for it s AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction. Today, it released more data about the winners and how much each company bid. Unsurprisingly, US wireless carriers were at the top of the heap, with AT&T alone bidding nearly $18.2 billion for 251 licenses, the largest going towards the New York City metro area. Verizon ponied up a total of $10.4 billion for 181 licenses, while T-Mobile spent just $1.7 billion. Dish Networks was the other big name in the mix, spending $13.3 billion of its money. Sprint declined to participate in this auction, noting that it would instead be putting its efforts towards the 600MHz incentive auction next year.

Compared to the FCC's last big spectrum license auction — the 2008 700MHz auction that brought in $19.1 billion in bids — this one saw much larger bids from AT&T. It spent nearly three times as much money as it did in 2008, while Verizon's bids totaled just a little more than the $9.3 billion it spent seven years ago. Perhaps most interesting will be what Dish does with its winning licenses, as the company has planned to launch a terrestrial LTE network for years but has yet to actually do so. With $13 billion worth of spectrum under its belt, perhaps Dish is finally ready to make its move.

Update, January 30th, 3:05PM: AT&T has released more information about the spectrum licenses that it won in this auction. According to the carrier, the licenses it bid on enable it to have "near nationwide contiguous 10x10 MHz block of high-quality AWS-3 spectrum" and it now covers "now covers 96 percent of the U.S. population with high-value contiguous AWS-3 spectrum." Devices that can make use of the new spectrum are expected to launch in 2017 and 2018.