Big telecom spent big bucks in FCC’s AWS-3 auction

Four companies spent over 97 percent of the total amount raised in the AWS-3 spectrum auction, which closed Thursday.

Familiar names sit atop a Federal Communications Commission list, released Friday, detailing how much telecom companies spent in its recent AWS-3 auction.

Three of the four big American wireless companies — AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon — spent billions to procure spectrum that will help improve connectivity and appease customer demand for more data.

Dish Network also shelled out 11 figures, spending more than $10 billion through a number of entities. According to the Wall Street Journal, the satellite TV provider actually bid more than $13 billion, but it was given a discount due to some small business qualifications.

Overall, AT&T Inc. ($18.2 billion), Dish Network Corp. ($13.3 billion), Verizon Communications Inc. ($10.4 billion) and T-Mobile US Inc. ($1.8 billion) made up 97 percent of the nearly $45 billion that was collected through the auction.


Dish congratulated the FCC in a statement on its website, but it said it could not speak further about its intentions due to the FCC’s anti-collusion rules. AT&T put out a statement Friday saying its purchase is a “near nationwide contiguous 10×10 MHz block” that will allow the company to cover 96 percent of the country’s population.

“Growth in our customers’ mobile data usage continues to explode, driven by mobile video traffic,” John Stankey, AT&T’s chief strategy officer, said. “This spectrum investment will be critical to AT&T staying ahead of customer demand and facilitate the next generation of mobile video entertainment.”

The AWS-3 spectrum auction was authorized as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Part of the money raised by the auction will front the $7 billion price tag on FirstNet, a nationwide interoperable public safety network.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler praised the auction results in a statement Thursday.

“Improving consumer access to wireless broadband is a priority of mine, and has been a priority of the Commission over the past five years,” Wheeler said. “Now, an additional 65 megahertz of spectrum is available to improve wireless connectivity across the country and accelerate the mobile revolution that is driving economic growth and improving the lives of the American people.”


See the full list of spectrum bidders on the FCC’s website.

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