T-Mobile was willing to spend big for spectrum, an area where it lags rivals Cingular, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon Wireless.

Elena Malykhina, Technology Journalist

September 2, 2006

1 Min Read

T-Mobile spent $4.2 billion bidding on wireless spectrum the past three weeks to expand the geography of its cellular network as it tries to climb up from the No. 4 rung on the U.S. wireless carrier ladder. Though the FCC set up the spectrum auction--one of its largest in 12 years--to give advantages to smaller telecom companies, the big vendors still dominated, filling holes in their national coverage.

Going Once, Going Twice ...

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T-Mobile has coverage gaps to fill

T-Mobile bought 116 radio frequency spectrum licenses in the first 18 days of bidding, as it tries to catch up to Cingular, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon Wireless in terms of coverage.

Verizon Wireless was the second-biggest winner, putting up $2.8 billion for four licenses. Sprint, in partnership with several cable providers under the name SpectrumCo, shelled out $2.3 billion for 133 licenses. Cingular trailed the others, bidding $1.3 billion for 49 licenses. The sum from all 73 rounds of bidding totaled about $13.8 billion.

The carriers aren't talking about what they'll do with the new spectrum. But it's likely they'll use it to expand and improve voice service offerings rather than advancing wireless broadband or mobile TV, as the auction's Advanced Wireless Services moniker might imply. Dropped calls are still too big a problem for customers. They want carriers to fix those problems before promoting services based on next-generation cellular technology.

About the Author(s)

Elena Malykhina

Technology Journalist

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she followed the world of advertising. Having earned the nickname of "gadget girl," she is excited to be writing about technology again for InformationWeek, where she worked in the past as an associate editor covering the mobile and wireless space. She now writes about the federal government and NASA’s space missions on occasion.

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