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April 14, 2017

T-Mobile just spent a massive $8 billion as part of the FCC’s latest auction

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Your wireless coverage may soon get a lot better thanks to the FCC’s latest spectrum auction.

The Federal Communications Commission’s Broadcast Incentive Auction has come to a close, with a hefty 175 TV stations getting payouts for giving up spectrum — spectrum that was in turn sold to the likes of T-Mobile, Comcast, NBCU, and Dish. The result? One of the highest grossing auctions ever conducted by the FCC, with a total gross revenue coming in at a whopping $19.8 billion.

Following the auction, there will be some big changes to many TV stations. The FCC will now enter into a 39-month transition period in moving broadcast stations to newly assigned channels. A total of 957 stations will now change channels during the period, with the first group scheduled to move starting on November 30, 2018.

“The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace.”

There were a number of big winners in the auction — namely T-Mobile. The “un-carrier” spent a massive $8 billion in the auction, and as a result it won the biggest number of licenses. Dish came in second, spending $6.2 billion, while Comcast came in third with $1.7 billion.

The new spectrum (which refers to the range of frequencies used to wirelessly transmit data) will be very helpful to those companies, as they will use them to build out their wireless networks. Having access to a broader spectrum means faster and wider coverage. The 600MHz band is largely what was up for grabs in this particular auction, and traditionally it has been used for TV signals. It works particularly well across large distances, which will help companies keep up with expanding coverage.

You can see a list of all 175 TV stations that got payouts and the winning wireless bidders here.

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