The Federal Communications Commission has closed Auction 97 for Advanced Wireless Services spectrum, with Verizon and AT&T the biggest winners in the spectrum sale.

Verizon, the U.S. largest wireless carrier, snapped up 181 licenses for an aggregate bid price of $10.4 billion. The licenses cover over 60 percent of the U.S. population and are in markets with points of presence (PoP), or an access point to the Internet, of about 192 million people.

Verizon declined to comment on its acquisitions to comply with the FCC's mandatory quiet period, which is meant to prevent collusion. The quiet period, during during which the FCC can deny licenses, ends on Feb. 13.

AT&T's total bids on spectrum licenses came to $18.2 billion, which is nearly three times as much as AH Research had expected the wireless carrier to pick up from Auction 97. The auction ended Jan. 29.

AH Research expected AT&T to spend about $6.3 billion on AWS-3 spectrum and another $9 billion on low bands in the future, but the Auction 97's reserve prices may be to blame for the off-target projections. Analysts were expecting Auction 97 winning bids to total about $30 billion, but the figure landed at about $45 billion.

T-Mobile had a tough go at the auction, as the U.S. fourth-largest carrier only picked up about $1.8 billion in licenses during the auction.

Dish Network also had a presence, accounting for about $10 billion in bids submitted through partners SNR Wireless LicenseCo and Northstar Wire

Sprint, still holding on to third place in the wireless market, stated publicly in September 2014 that it wouldn't be participating in Auction 97.

While Sprint may have fewer subscribers than the top two carriers in the U.S., it has more than enough spectrum to bear the weight of expansions down the line. Sprint has so much 2.5 GHz spectrum, in fact, that the FCC is even said to have been mulling capping the wireless carrier's 2.5-Ghz bands under the commission's spectrum screen, which is designed to cap the amount of spectrum a carrier can own.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.