WASHINGTON – The U.S. sale of airwaves for advanced wireless services grossed a record $13.9 billion when it ended on Monday, and spectrum-hungry U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile USA topped the bidding by offering almost $4.2 billion for 120 licenses.
The Federal Communications Commission auction ended after no new bids or withdrawals occurred in the 161st round of the sale of 1,122 licenses, which started August 9. Industry analysts had predicted the auction could raise as much as $15 billion.
The U.S. Treasury will net about $13.7 billion from the FCC sale because the agency gives discounts of up to 25 percent to smaller companies to encourage their participation.
The winning companies are expected to use the airwaves to expand and improve existing voice services as well as expand their high-speed Internet and video services. There are about 219 million wireless subscribers in the United States.
Telecommunications and video companies are competing to offer consumers a package of traditional and wireless telephone, television and high-speed Internet services, which often command well over $100 a month and are viewed as highly profitable to providers.
Winning more airwaves was particularly crucial for T-Mobile, the No. 4 U.S. provider and a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG, because it has less airwaves in the top markets than its larger rivals.
T-Mobile won regional licenses that cover large portions of the United States as well as individual licenses for key markets like New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Another top bidder was a consortium of major U.S. cable providers Comcast Corp., Time Warner Inc. and Cox Communications which teamed up with No. 3 wireless carrier Sprint Nextel Corp.
Fuente: Reuters, Jeremy Pelofsky