Hey Big Spenders! AT&T, Dish & VZ Splash Cash on Spectrum

AT&T, Dish and Verizon each bid over $10 billion on licenses for fresh bandwidth in the $45 billion AWS-3 auction, with Ma Bell emerging as the top bidder, the FCC revealed Friday.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) led the pack with $18.19 billion bid. Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) bid $13.33 billion. Verizon Wireless is stumping up 10.43 billion. T-Mobile US Inc. has bid $1.77 billion. (See FCC's Monster Auction Ends at $45B in Bids.)

"Relative to our expectations, AT&T and Verizon each spent a bit less than expected; Dish Network spent significantly more; T-Mobile was in-line," wrote Moffett Nathanson analyst Craig Moffett in a research note Friday.

The numbers, however, far exceeded the initial Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserve price of $10 billion. In fact, AT&T bid nearly as much for its licenses as was paid for the entire 700MHz auction back in 2008.

The AWS-3 auction includes 65MHz of spectrum in the 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz bands, including 50MHz of paired channels for LTE uplink and downlink. The spectrum will likely be used by most of the operators to expand the amount of bandwidth available for wireless data services on their networks.

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AT&T says that it acquired enough licenses for "a near nationwide contiguous 10x10 MHz block of high-quality AWS-3 spectrum." The operator now covers 96% of the US population with the bandwidth. It expects to start using the spectrum in 2017 or 2018.

Verizon says it bought 181 licenses that cover 61% of the US.

Dish, meanwhile, has put out a statement saying it publicly filed to bid and invested in two other entities that did bid. It didn't reveal any further details on what it had won yet, citing FCC anti-collusion rules.

Dish doesn't have a wireless network. But it does now have a lot of adjacent spectrum in the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands.The US satellite provider holds 50MHz of spectrum: 40MHz in the AWS-4 (2/2.2GHz) band and 10MHz in the adjacent 1.9GHz H-Band. The H-Band could potentially be paired with AWS-4 for an uplink and downlink channel. (See $35B+ Spectrum Auction Dings Verizon, Shines Dish.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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thebulk 2/2/2015 | 9:30:45 PM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... good luck on ebay. ;-)
thebulk 2/2/2015 | 9:30:00 PM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... Time will tell, a dish is a good candidate but I am not sure they would do much better.
MikeP688 2/2/2015 | 8:31:50 PM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... It is up to us to push the envelope and be ever so engaging.   I just "popped into" ebay to see if I can pick up a Pebble....will see how it goes :-) 
KBode 2/2/2015 | 11:44:20 AM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... Having the CEO of owner deutsche telekom come out and plainly say recently that he doesn't think spending billions to battle AT&T and Verizon is sustainable, yeah I'm not sure that their consumer-friendly adventure is going to remain intact for the long haul. Still wondering if we'll see a Dish acquisition before too long.
thebulk 2/2/2015 | 11:32:50 AM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... Both of those are factors I am really thinking about, as well as new ways get more out of the spectrum. If having worked in telecom has taught me anything its that if they can fit another bit into the same sapce they will find a way to do it. 
thebulk 2/2/2015 | 11:31:07 AM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... T-Mobile seems to come in waves, they will chip away for a while and then fall back and then come on strong again. They seem to lack consistancy. 
KBode 2/2/2015 | 8:55:56 AM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... I'm really not sure. With Verizon and AT&T owning the lion's share of spectrum, I'm not sure it's entirely possible for things to change all THAT much when it comes to next generation services. Certainly watching things like Google's MVNO play and Dish's efforts (assuming they don't just turn around and sell the spectrum) with great interest, however.
KBode 2/2/2015 | 8:54:38 AM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... Their network performance is good, their customer service still tends to lag when compared to Verizon. Though both companies are losing ground to T-Mobile's latest uncarrier efforts.
thebulk 2/2/2015 | 3:37:40 AM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... As a long time Star Trek fan I am waiting for the day I can use my tricorder to do everything I might want and then beam back to my ship. 

I dont think that is asking too much...... is it?
MikeP688 2/1/2015 | 11:32:55 PM
Re: On the "Brief Prowl"... Happy Feburary!!

As someone reminded me here not so long ago, we can't forestall progress. I for one will not even try.    I am anxious to see what Apple will endowe us as April rolls out--and whether we would truly see the Vision of "Star Trek" realized--the bandwith that these guys just paid will probably be a "bargain" as that segment explodes.  Hopoefully, then, I can pick up a Pebble for $ 10!!!

Onward :-) :-) 
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