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Airwaves Auction Winners Named
Thursday March 20, 9:52 pm ET
By John Dunbar, Associated Press Writer
AT&T, Verizon Wireless Dominate in Record Airwaves Auction
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The two largest cell phone companies dominated bidding in a record-setting government airwaves auction, according to results released Thursday.
AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless combined to account for $16 billion of the $19.6 billion bid in the auction, an Associated Press analysis of Federal Communications Commission data shows. Verizon Wireless bid $9.4 billion and AT&T $6.6 billion.
The results raised concern that the auction failed to attract any significant new competitors to the cellular telephone market to challenge the dominant companies. For example, Google Inc. was not among the winners, meaning the search engine giant will not be entering the wireless business.
One new entrant, Frontier Wireless LLC, owned by direct broadcast satellite television company EchoStar Corp., won nearly enough licenses to create a nationwide footprint. Frontier bid $712 million, according to FCC data.
The spectrum was made available thanks to the nationwide transition to digital broadcasting. The hope is that consumers will benefit from more advanced wireless services such as high-speed Internet access. The money raised will be used to help public safety programs and offset the federal budget deficit.