The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday announced the results of its first broadcast incentive auction, with the sale generating $19.8 billion.
“The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.
“Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace.”
Of the $19.8 billion raised by the sale, $7.3 billion will go toward the national debt.
The FCC auctioned off wireless spectrum that it bought from television broadcasters to help wireless providers meet the increasing demand created by smartphones.
Roughly $10 billion in revenue went to broadcast stations for their sales of wireless spectrum, a number that some expected to be higher.
T-Mobile, who along with Comcast, Dish and U.S. Cellular, was among the largest buyers in the auction, touted its purchases in a statement.
“T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the country. That is a BFD for our customers!” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. “Because T-Mobile customers will be able to speed on a brand-new, wide-open wireless freeway, while carrier customers have to crawl along on their clogged, congested low-band freeways.”
Pai said that while he was pleased to see the auction over, the FCC would still work to facilitate spectrum swapping hands easily.
“It’s now imperative that we move forward with equal zeal to ensure a successful post-auction transition, including a smooth and efficient repacking process,” Pai said.