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Dish Network Corp. (MM) NASDAQ:DISH NASDAQ Common Stock
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FCC's TV Airwaves Auction Drew $19.8 Billion, Led by T-Mobile

13/04/2017 8:40pm

Dow Jones News


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By Ryan Knutson 

T-Mobile US Inc., Dish Network Corp. and Comcast Corp. were among the top buyers in the U.S. government's auction of airwaves, which drew $19.8 billion in bids.

The results, announced Thursday, showed that T-Mobile was the biggest spender at $8 billion. It was followed by Dish, which spent $6.2 billion, and Comcast with $1.7 billion.

Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., the nation's largest wireless carriers by subscribers, largely sat out the auction, which was run by the Federal Communications Commission and began last year. AT&T spent less than $1 billion on licenses, while Verizon declined to bid.

Verizon's absence, and the strong showing from companies like Comcast that don't currently operate cellular networks, is a sign of the changing telecommunications landscape. Verizon has said it believes wireless airwaves, known as spectrum, have become too expensive, and it would rather invest in technology to improve coverage than buy fresh airwaves.

AT&T, meanwhile, won a government contract to build a wireless network for public safety that comes with a large swath of airwaves. It has also indicated interest in content with its $85 billion offer to acquire media company Time Warner Inc.

It wasn't immediately clear what Comcast and Dish plan to do with the airwaves. Comcast said earlier this month it would start selling cellphone service to its home internet customers, and the service runs off the back of Verizon's network. Dish has been amassing a trove of wireless airwaves for years that it has yet to put to use.

The complex reverse auction invited television broadcasters to sell their airwaves with opening prices provided by the government. Those bids fell until the agency got the licenses it needed at the lowest possible price.

The FCC said more than $10 billion would go to 175 TV stations that are selling their licenses. Almost 2,000 stations were eligible to participate in the auction. Two New Jersey public broadcasting stations sold licenses for $332 million. WWTO-TV, a Chicago religious station owned by Trinity Broadcasting Network, went for $304 million.

Other big sellers were 21st Century Fox, which sold $350 million of licenses, and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., which sold $313 million.

Drew FitzGerald and Shalini Ramachandran contributed to this article

Write to Ryan Knutson at ryan.knutson@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 13, 2017 15:25 ET (19:25 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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