November 21, 2014 / 9:55 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. spectrum auction raises more than $30 billion

WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Total bidding in the U.S. airwaves auction of so-called AWS-3 frequencies has surpassed $30 billion on Friday, according to the Federal Communications Commission, far exceeding expectations just over a week after bidding began.

The wave of bidding vastly surpassed the reserve price of $10.1 billion for the auction, the largest opportunity for wireless carriers to get access to new airwaves since 2008.

The most obvious beneficiary of the surge in bids is satellite TV mogul Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network Corp, whose share price hit a 14-year high on Friday.

The auction, one of the first to sell access to mid-band frequencies similar to the ones controlled by Dish, has crystallized the value of Dish’s mass spectrum holdings.

“This definitely exceeds expectations and makes a strong case for Charlie that his spectrum holdings are worth a lot,” one Dish investor told Reuters.

Dish has spent $10.5 billion on spectrum since 2008, but its true market value is uncertain because it takes government auctions such as this to set a formal benchmark.

“Dish is benefiting by sympathy, basically. Because, it is one of the few hard benchmarks, because spectrum doesn’t get traded a lot,” said Roger Entner, lead analyst at Recon Analytics in Boston. (Reporting by Marina Lopes; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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