T-Mobile US Inc bid $8 billion and Dish Network $6.2 billion to win the bulk of broadcast airwaves spectrum for sale in a government auction, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.
At $19.8 billion in gross revenue for 70MHz of spectrum, the incentive auction is among the highest grossing auctions ever conducted by the FCC.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, "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. Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace."
More than $10 billion will go to 175 winning broadcasters that elected to participate in the incentive auction and repurpose their airwaves for mobile use. Of the winners, 30 stations will receive money for agreeing to move to a lower channel and 133 others will relinquish their licenses and indicated their intent to remain on air through channel-sharing agreements with non-winning stations.
The FCC also announced the new channel assignments, and effective dates of those assignments, for 957 non-winning stations that must change channels to clear the new wireless airwaves for use. The first group of stations to move channels is scheduled for November 30, 2018. Stations are required to provide 30 days' notice, and the FCC provides information for over-the-air viewers on how to "rescan" their receivers to find new channels at www.fcc.gov/incentiveauctions/consumers.
In the forward auction, wireless carriers bid $19.8 billion on mobile broadband spectrum. A total of 50 winning bidders won 70 MHz of licensed spectrum nationwide. A total of 14 MHz of spectrum is available for unlicensed use and wireless microphones. On a nationwide basis, 70 MHz is the most mobile broadband ever auctioned below 1GHz by the FCC. Among the largest winners are T-Mobile, Dish, Comcast, and US Cellular.
Comcast agreed to acquire $1.7 billion in spectrum, AT&T bid $910 million and investment firm Columbia Capital offered $1 billion.
T-Mobile said its $8 billion winning bid would enable it "to compete in every single corner of he country."
Verizon Communications and Sprint opted not to bid.