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US FCC wireless auction ends, raising $16.86 bln
Posted: 26-Jan-2001 [Source: Reuters]

[Verizon wins over a quarter of the licenses spending $8.78 billion.]

"The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said its airwaves auction had ended on Friday raising a record $16.86 billion, with Verizon Wireless winning more than a quarter of the licenses for sale.

"After 101 rounds, Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Vodafone Group Plc (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: VOD.L) and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ - news) and the No. 1 U.S. wireless company, spent $8.78 billion for 113 licenses, winning two licenses each in key markets such as New York and Boston.

"As far as valuations paid, $16.9 billion, that's kind of in the middle of expectations of a $15 to $20 billion range," said Peter Friedland, an analyst with WR Hambrecht & Co.

"Winners of the coveted licenses were expected to use them to fill gaps in network coverage, improve service in congested markets and launch new products like wireless data and Internet services.

"Of the 15 markets that received the highest bids, Verizon won nine of the licenses covering those markets, bidding a total of over $4 billion for two licenses in New York, $513.5 million for one in Los Angeles, $398.8 million for one in San Francisco, $277.3 million for one in Philadelphia and $216.7 million for one covering Washington, D.C.

"As far as valuations paid, New York might be on the higher end of expectations but given that it is New York, you have to expect top dollar," Friedland said.

"Alaska Native Wireless, which has ties to AT&T Wireless Group Inc. (NYSE:AWE - news), was a distant second place behind Verizon in the overall bidding, offering $2.89 billion for 44 licenses.

"The company had a winning bid of $1.48 billion for the third license available for New York City and $435.2 million for Los Angeles.

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