AWS Auction Closes; T-Mobile Leads The Way

The Advanced Wireless Services spectrum auction has finished, grossing $13.9 billion for federal coffers. T-Mobile led at the end, dropping $4.2 billion for nearly nationwide 20 MHz coverage — which will give it a significant boost. The company simply didn’t have enough spectrum to roll out 3G services, letting its rivals race ahead, but it should now have plenty for the forseeable future. Verizon and Cingular also grabbed a lot of spectrum, even though they didn’t necessarily need it, probably drawn in by the relatively low prices the auction was offering. The other big winners were the partnership between Sprint and some cable companies, and then limited-mobility providers Leap (the parent company of Cricket) and MetroPCS. The Sprint-cableco group’s strategy still isn’t very clear, given Sprint’s strong 2.5 GHz holdings, which it will use for its WiMax network; Leap and MetroPCS are having a good measure of success in rolling out their unlimited-use local plans in various areas around the country, and this spectrum will help them expand. All in all, it looks like most of the big players got what they wanted, except for the satellite TV companies, which were an early casualty.

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