Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier, led early bidding today for valuable airwaves, provisionally winning 31 licenses by offering $437 million, according to a story by Reuters.
It was important for T-Mobile to participate in the auction because it does not own enough spectrum to roll out high-speed wireless broadband, called 3G. It is the only nationwide carrier that has not rolled out some high-speed service. Verizon Wireless and Sprint are close to providing nationwide 3G networks and Cingular Wireless has turned on the service in a number of markets.
The auction will sell 1,122 licenses and the bidding will continue until there are no more new bids, withdrawals or other activity in the sale.
Also participating in the auction today was Dolan Family Holdings, which has ties to Cablevision Systems; the joint venture of the major U.S. cable operators and Sprint Nextel; and a partnership between satellite television providers DirecTV Group and EchoStar Communications.