AT&T led bidding in FCC wireless spectrum auction

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

AT&T cast the largest bid in the biggest-ever Federal Communications Commission auction of wireless spectrum access as companies vied for the right to use certain frequencies for airwaves.

In the auction, which racked up more than $41 billion in total, companies bid for increased access to wireless spectrum, which effectively allows them to offer more high-speed connectivity and satisfy more user demand for data. Among other leading bidders were Verizon and T-Mobile, who paid $10.4 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively.

The sum, which included bids from 31 companies, doubled the reserve price set by the government and soared ahead of wireless industry expectations, Re/code reported. The space has grown more coveted for carriers as users gobble data with streaming video and other applications.

"Improving consumer access to wireless broadband is a priority of mine, and has been a priority of the commission over the past five years," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. "Now, an additional 65 megahertz of spectrum is available to improve wireless connectivity across the country and accelerate the mobile revolution that is driving economic growth and improving the lives of the American people. The results of this auction confirm the strong market demand for more spectrum."

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The U.S. government regulates the wireless spectrum, auctioning parts to broadcasters and carriers while leaving some unregulated for Wi-Fi and other functions.

—Re/code contributed to this report.

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