April 14, 2017
The results of the government’s wireless airwaves auction are in, and T-Mobile ended up as the biggest spender at $8 billion, followed by Dish at $6.2 billion and Comcast at $1.7 billion. The FCC auction, which began last year, generated $19.8 billion in bids. While the companies have yet to announce their plans for the spectrum, Comcast recently indicated that it would offer cell service to its Internet subscribers. Conclusion of the auction also means that companies will be able to resume deal discussions by April 27, now that bidding collusion is no longer a concern.
Analysts have suggested the possibility of T-Mobile merging with a cable provider such as Comcast, for example, or a carrier such as Sprint.
Verizon and AT&T, “the nation’s largest wireless carriers by subscribers, largely sat out the auction,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “AT&T offered $910 million for the licenses, while Verizon declined to bid.”
“Verizon’s absence, and the strong showing from companies like Comcast that don’t currently operate cellular networks, is a sign of the changing telecommunications landscape,” notes WSJ.
Verizon indicated its preference to invest in technology for improved coverage, while AT&T was recently awarded “a government contract to build a wireless network for public safety that comes with a large swath of airwaves.”
Among those selling their licenses included two New Jersey public broadcasting stations, a Chicago station owned by Trinity Broadcasting, 21st Century Fox and Sinclair Broadcast Group.