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T-Mobile, Dish bid $14 billion in U.S. airwaves auction: FCC

By David Shepardson and Anjali Athavaley

NEW YORK T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) bid $8 billion and Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) $6.2 billion to win the bulk of broadcast airwaves spectrum for sale in a government auction, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.

The two carriers accounted for more than two-thirds of $19.8 billion in winning bids, the FCC said. Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) agreed to acquire $1.7 billion in spectrum, AT&T Inc (T.N) bid $910 million and investment firm Columbia Capital offered $1 billion.

T-Mobile said its $8 billion winning bid would enable it “to compete in every single corner of he country.” The company, controlled by Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE), said the investment will quadruple its low-band holdings.

Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Sprint Corp (S.N) opted not to bid.

“What is most interesting to us was (Verizon) was nowhere to be found,” Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said in a research note, adding that “we continue to believe Verizon’s interests lay in the higher band spectrum assets.”

She said that T-Mobile was opportunistic with its purchases as expected.

Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said in an email that there were three surprises in the results: “Comcast bought less than expected, Dish Network bought more, and Verizon bought nothing at all.”

“We had expected Dish to be a de minimis player in the auction,” he said. “Dish’s spectrum spending underscores the growing importance of the company’s valuation as it relates to their spectrum holdings.”

The FCC said 175 broadcast stations were selling airwaves to 50 wireless and other telecommunications companies. Companies plan to use the spectrum to build new networks or improve existing coverage to meet growing mobile data demands.

Of the 175 winning broadcasters, the FCC said, 30 will receive money for agreeing to move to a lower channel and 133 others will relinquish licenses and indicated their intent to remain on air through channel-sharing agreements.

The FCC also announced new channel assignments for 957 non-winning stations that must change channels to clear the new wireless airwaves for use. The first group of stations to move channels is scheduled for November 2018.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)

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T-Mobile, Dish bid $14 billion in U.S. airwaves auction: FCC


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