$19.8 billion airwaves auction may mean better cell service

People pass by a T Mobile store in the Brooklyn borough of New York

There were a number of big winners in the auction - namely T-Mobile. Also an interesting tidbit from the FCC here is that Verizon, despite being in the auction, opted not to bid on the spectrum. In other words, T-Mobile and Sprint were the only companies able to pony up the cash to pay for the holdings, and Sprint wanted nothing to do with this auction. (NYSE: T) spent just $910.2 million. With them picking up an average of 31MHz nationwide, they have plenty of space to build out their network and add even more customers. It's not clear what Comcast plans to do with that spectrum, either. Comcast was part of a consortium with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks that jointly invested $2.37 billion in the 700 MHz auction in 2008.

"It is encouraging to see that competitive carriers and potential new entrants secured the majority of the spectrum auctioned".

So deep-pocketed companies that aren't yet in the wireless game rounded out the top three bidders. In this particular instance, it's the spectrums used by TV companies, The Washington Post reports. It's at a relatively low frequency, which means it's good at traveling long distances and penetrating walls - attributes that make for a strong network. The Federal Communications Commission announced the results of the auction on April 13. Under the plan, broadcasters operating in the UHF band could offer up their licenses to be auctioned.

"With regards to unlicensed spectrum, we're pleased with the amount of unlicensed spectrum made available at this clearing level".

PC pioneer Michael Dell was among the winners. The Congressional Budget Office in 2015 estimated that the current auction would bring in $10 billion to $40 billion, with an expected value of $25 billion, after TV station owners were paid. CBS sold one Minneapolis station for $10 million. Comcast also moved into positive territory, up as much as 0.3 percent.

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Comcast has recently announced a new mobile phone service that will use the company's own WiFi hotspots and the Verizon wireless network. Verizon's leadership clearly believes the carrier doesn't need low-band spectrum, but could still participate in mergers and acquisitions that are likely to get underway later this month, following the end of the FCC's auction quiet period, according to the same article.

This move is all about catching up to Verizon and AT&T.

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The big guys are also the ones spending heaviest on diversification. The average price per megahertz per US resident was about 90 cents, compared with $2.72 in that sale, said Kevin Roe, of Roe Equity Research.

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