No shocker: The two biggest U.S. wireless companies, AT&T (T) and Verizon Wireless (VZ), spent the most money in the FCC’s wireless spectrum auction. But many other companies bid and won, including Dish Network (DISH), Qualcomm (QCOM), MetroPCS (PCS), U.S. Cellular, the cable company Cox, and Paul Allen’s Vulcan.
What will they do with it? Here’s a look at (some of) the winners, how much they spent, and what they might do with the airwaves they just bought.
Company Bids What’s The Plan? Verizon Wireless $9.4 billion Extending its existing nationwide business — offering high-speed mobile Internet service. “C” block spectrum must follow “open access” rules, meaning the network must be accessible by any compatible gadget and any software application.
AT&T $6.6 billion Like Verizon Wireless, extending its existing nationwide business. Unlike Verizon Wireless, AT&T’s spectrum doesn’t require “open access.” Matches up with spectrum it bought from Aloha Partners last October.
$712 million Dish’s winnings are on the “E” block, which supports one-way signals — not two-way communication. Good for a mobile TV service. Not clear if Dish Network (DISH) or EchoStar (SATS) will end up with the spectrum, says Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield. Also could sell to Qualcomm (QCOM), whose MediaFlo mobile TV subsidiary has similar spectrum. Qualcomm $558 million Much of its spectrum is in the “E” block, which it can use in conjunction with MediaFlo. Could potentially offer other wireless services in tiny pieces of “B” block spectrum it bought in California and New Jersey. MetroPCS $313 million
Building its spectrum holding/future network in Boston. Still a good M&A match with Leap (LEAP), and can chat soon when FCC’s anti-collusion rules lift.
Cox Cable $305 million Experiment with wireless services for its cable customers, such as “quadruple play” service. Example: Offer high-speed wireless “roaming” around town to its cable Internet customers. U.S. Cellular
Expand its network into more regions and/or pad the areas where it already owns spectrum. Vulcan $113 million
Bought spectrum in Pacific Northwest. Could use for wireless service in conjunction with Charter cable (CHTR)?