Cellular carriers spent $44.9 billion during a recent auction of wireless frequencies by the Federal Communications Commission.
The eye-popping bids that blew past even the highest government estimates are a testament to soaring demand for mobile Internet service. These frequencies, also known as spectrum, are needed to expand cellular networks so they can carry more phone calls and data.
The additional bandwidth will help cell customers stream high-quality videos and download apps more quickly. Without sufficient airwaves, wireless networks can become congested and slow.
“The results of this auction confirm the strong market demand for more spectrum,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler commented. “We are confident there will continue to be strong demand for valuable low-band spectrum that will be made available in the Incentive Auction early next year.”
The U.S. government plans to use about $7 billion of the revenue to build a nationwide high-speed communications network for firefighters and police officers. The rest will go to paying down the federal debt.