T-Mobile, Dish bid combined $14 billion in U.S. airwaves auction: FCC

Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:02pm EDT
 
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By David Shepardson and Anjali Athavaley

NEW YORK (Reuters) - T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O: Quote) bid $8 billion and Dish Network Corp (DISH.O: Quote) $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.

The two carriers accounted for most of the $19.8 billion in winning bids, the FCC said. Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O: Quote) agreed to acquire $1.7 billion in spectrum, AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote) bid $910 million and investment firm Columbia Capital offered $1 billion.

The FCC said 175 broadcast stations were selling airwaves to 50 wireless and other telecommunications companies. Companies plan to use the spectrum to build new networks or improve existing coverage.

The spectrum auction's end is widely expected to kick off a wave of deal-making in the telecom industry. Until now, companies participating in the auction have been restrained by a quiet period, but that will end after April 27, when down payments are due from auction winners.

T-Mobile said its $8 billion winning bid would enable it "to compete in every single corner of he country." The company, controlled by Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE: Quote), said the investment will quadruple its low-band holdings.

Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N and Sprint Corp (S.N: Quote) opted not to bid.

“What is most interesting to us was (Verizon) was nowhere to be found,” Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said in a research note, adding that "we continue to believe Verizon’s interests lay in the higher band spectrum assets."

Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said in an email that there were three surprises in the results: “Comcast bought less than expected, Dish Network bought more, and Verizon bought nothing at all."   Continued...

 
People pass by a T-Mobile store in the Brooklyn borough of New York June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid