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US wireless auction ends

$16.86bn splashed out

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Well, it's all over, after 101 rounds and a load of breathless reporting. The grand total for the 422 licences was $16.86 billion (£11.6 billion).

During the auction, the most fashionable stat to give was the cost per megahertz of the licences. This then could be compared to the same stat for the European 3G licence auction. And so here it is: $4.07 per megahurtz was paid on average in the US. An average of $4.08 was paid in the UK and Germany.

Which says to us is that the US hasn't learnt from our stupidity and has grossly overpaid for the licences, but there you go. Mind you, the advantage is that the americans can start using the bandwidth now, whereas 3G is still years away on this side of the Atlantic.

Unlike here, the US companies share prices have held up. So! The results. Verizon came out top-dog with 113 licences dotted over the US for $8.78 billion. Cingular (BellSouth, SBC) nabbed 80 for $2.35 billion and Alaska Native Wireless (AT&T) took 44 for $2.89 billion. Together, these three accounted for over three-quarters of the overall total paid. Nextel, VoiceStream and Sprint picked up the remainder.

Back to 3G over here. A recent study with people in the mobile industry has said that the companies that paid a fortune for 3G licences don't expect to see a return for more than five years. We reckon they're right - it will take more than five years. Maybe eight. ®

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