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The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday that it’s planning a series of major auctions for newly available wireless spectrum worth billions of dollars.

The last time the FCC held an auction for spectrum was nearly six years ago. Since that time, the country’s consumers have become even more connected with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices — forcing wireless carriers to invest in larger and faster wireless networks to keep up with demand. The more spectrum a carrier owns, the easier it is for them to deliver a quick, reliable network.

All four major U.S. carriers are expected to bid upwards of $50 billion for use of the available spectrum. Since Verizon and AT&T own the most spectrum, the third and four largest U.S. telecoms (T-Mobile and Sprint) are expected to be particularly aggressive in bidding to remain competitive. The only non-carrier expected to bid is satellite TV provider Dish Network, which has long wanted a wireless Internet service to bundle with its TV service.

The first auction kicks off today with a sale of a portion of the spectrum called the H block, which the FCC expects will net around $1.5 billion. The most expensive/valuable portion of the newly available spectrum comes from airwaves that were previously used to broadcast local TV station signals, which won’t go on sale until next year.


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