February 27, 2014 / 6:50 PM / 6 years ago

U.S. 'H-block' airwaves auction ends after hitting reserve price

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Bidding closed on Thursday in the U.S. auction of so-called H Block of spectrum frequencies after bids reached exactly the $1.564 billion that Dish Network Corp had pledged as a reserve price.

The Federal Communications Commission closed the auction after 167 rounds of bids since Jan. 22. The winners will be announced in coming days.

“With this successful auction, the Commission makes good on its commitment to unleash more spectrum for consumers and businesses, delivering a significant down payment towards funding the nationwide interoperable public safety network,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

Satellite TV provider Dish was the largest and most formidable of the 34 applicants who had indicated an interest in bidding for ownership of airwaves in certain geographic areas. Other interested participants included smaller carriers and individual investors.

In preparation for the auction, Dish had pledged to bid $1.564 billion for the H block spectrum in exchange for the FCC giving it more flexibility on how fast and how the company would use some of the spectrum it already had.

Bidding in the H Block auction slowed notably in recent days, and Wall Street analysts speculated that Dish was the last remaining participant, continuing to bid to reach the pledged total amount.

Licenses for areas including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago raised the most amount of money. While the FCC disclosed the size and quantity of bids in real-time, their sources remain anonymous.

To view the results, see fcc.us/1eVrkUp

The H Block spectrum is adjacent to some frequencies already owned by Dish, meaning the satellite TV company could end up in control of a valuable contiguous slice of airwaves.

The auction was the first opportunity the FCC had offered companies to acquire ownership of new airwaves since 2008.

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