$19.8 billion airwaves auction may mean better cell service

The FCC said past year that 62 bidders made upfront payments to take part, including AT&T Inc (T.N), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), Dish Network Corp (DISH.O), T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) - which is controlled by Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and U.S. Cellular Corp (USM.N).

T-Mobile, who along with Comcast, Dish and U.S. Cellular, was among the largest buyers in the auction, touted its purchases in a statement.

Spectrum for auction-70 MHz of licensed and 14 MHz of unlicensed frequencies-was made available through an unprecedented bidding procedure that allowed TV stations to assign a value to their 600 MHz spectrum. They contributed close to $8 billion to the grand total, procuring 10-megahertz licenses extending across 414 economic areas, roughly 45% of the total TV spectrum that was up for grabs at the auction. The company participated in the auction under the ParkerB.com Wireless name. The auction generated $7.3 billion that will be allocated to deficit reduction, according to the FCC.

Low-band spectrum is particularly important for covering long distances and penetrating obstacles such as building walls, which have always been problems for T-Mobile's network. Dish has been hoovering up spectrum for several years now. It's unclear what Dish chief executive Charlie Ergen intends to do with those airwaves, but analysts have said that the company could seek to sell that wireless real estate to other companies.

The FCC said that they will collect $19.8 billion in gross revenue, its second-highest return from a spectrum auction.

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Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Verizon and Sprint did not acquire any new spectrum.

But Dish isn't the only company that owns spectrum Verizon might buy.

However, broader coverage will require lower spectrum bands. Already Verizon has deployed fixed 5G equipment into more than 10 cities across the country with the goal of offering super-fast, short-range wireless connections in place of costly fiber outlays.

So why did T-Mobile walk away with the most 600MHz spectrum?

An FCC spokesman declined to comment on when the results will be announced. The company did recently move on long-simmering plans to launch a mobile service using a mobile virtual network operator agreement with Verizon Wireless gleaned from one of those license deals.