AT&T top buyer at U.S. airwaves auction; Dish spends big
By Alina Selyukh and Malathi Nayak
WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote) spent close to half the total in the record-setting U.S. sale of airwaves for mobile data, with Dish Network Corp DISH.O spending heavily to manage a surprise win at No.2 ahead of Verizon, results showed on Friday.
AT&T bid a total of $18.2 billion to win licenses of so-called AWS-3 spectrum. Dish itself did not win any licenses, but had invested in bidding partners SNR Wireless LicenseCo LLC and Northstar Wireless LLC, which bid a total of $13.3 billion.
The two companies, backed also by financial firms including BlackRock Inc (BLK.N: Quote) but with little to no revenue, had applied to receive a discount as small-business entities, bringing their net bid amount to $10 billion.
Verizon and T-Mobile TMUS.N bids were $10.4 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively, according to the results of the Federal Communications Commission's largest ever auction.
"Dish was the one that surprised most, spending a couple of billion more than anticipated," said Jefferies & Co analyst Mike McCormack.
Dish's larger-than-expected bid for over 700 licenses put a damper on the investors' hypothesis that the satellite company had expected to turn around and sell the newly acquired airwaves to Verizon or another buyer. However, Dish's plans remain unclear.
Shares of Dish fell 4.3 percent to close at $70.35 on Thursday.
Verizon made slightly lower-than-expected bids but the company had hinted to investors that it would do so in December, McCormack added. Continued...