Wireless Carriers Bid Over $24 Billion in Airwave Auction

The government auction of airwaves saw bids climb over $24 billion yesterday as wireless carriers battle it out for the valuable licenses. It’s been about a week since the auction began and already companies have shot past the reserve price of $10 billion. The demand for the airwaves, which can be used to enhance existing LTE networks, is particularly strong in metro areas such as Los Angeles and New York City.

It’s not known who is bidding at present, since the FCC does not release the names of those involved until after the auction is concluded. However, it’s a safe bet that AT&T and Verizon are among the top bidders, with T-Mobile also going after a smaller share of the pie. Sprint, the other major U.S. carrier, is not participating.

With the high reported bids so far, the auction looks set to easily surpass expectations and paints a promising picture for a future auction of television airwaves set to take place in 2016. About $7 billion of the funds raised from the auction will go toward FirstNet, a national wireless broadband network for first responders. The government plans to use the remaining proceeds for deficit reduction.

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