Auctioning off the airwaves

SCOTT JAGOW: Cell phone companies are ready to fork out big bucks for airwaves. Those airwaves are for sale at an FCC auction that could rake in $14 billion. Stacey Vanek Smith looks at who's in the market.


STACEY VANEK SMITH: T-Mobile wants to get more . . . spectrum. So far it's the top bidder in the FCC's auction, offering more than $4 billion for licenses all over the country. Industry consultant Scott Cleland isn't surprised.
SCOTT CLELAND: T-Mobile is spectrum-poor relative to Cingular, Verizon and Sprint. And if it wants to compete, it has to have more spectrum.

But spectrum-rich telecom giants Verizon and Cingular are also bidding billions. Some say they're just trying to hamstring the competition. But Cleland says there's no such thing as owning too much spectrum right now. Especially as Americans start using wireless devices to watch TV and download videos.

CLELAND: As we start sending video content, it is just going to have a voracious appetite and consume enormous amounts of bandwidth.

These auctions are also proving to be a great way for the feds to make moneya€¦ This is shaping up to be the biggest take the FCC has had since it started spectrum auctions about 10 years ago.

I'm Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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