Wireless Auction Ends With $13.9 Billion Dollar Payday


The FCC has completed what it bills as its most successful spectrum auction ever.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin had telegraphed the end in his renomination hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee last week, but the bids had been coming so un-thick and slow that it's end had been predicted for several days.

The auction of reclaimed government spectrum, which will be used for advanced wireless services like broadband, raised $13.9 billion for the U.S. Treasury  from 104 bidders winning 1,087 licenses.

The AWS (advanced wireless services) auction had to raise at least $2.06 billion to cover the cost of relocating current occupants.

Top bidders were T-Mobile License LLC; Cellco Partnership (Verizon Wireless); SpectrumCo; MetroPCS AWS; and Cingular AWS.

“Although we cannot envision our lives without access to the Internet," said Martin of the auction's completion, "I believe we are only beginning to imagine the way mobile broadband networks will impact our lives - - changing the business and entertainment possibilities available to consumers."

Forty-five licenses were not sold, but the FCC can roll them into a future auction.

One advanced wireless auction already on the books will be the one for reclaimed TV spectrum as broadcasters translate to digital TV. That will be prime real estate since its propagation characteristics make it less prone to disruption from buildings and other obstacles.

The government has projected taking in some $6 billion from that auction, but if this is any indication, that figure will be closer to the higher end of some private prognostications, which put it closer to $20 billion.