NEW YORK — Big changes are expected for the world of mobile phones and Internet devices in the wake of a crucial radio airwaves auction dominated by the nation's top two wireless carriers.
The overwhelming wins by Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. on Thursday put them in strong positions to roll out a new generation of speedy on-the-go broadband. For many wireless customers, the auction also will likely mean more choices when picking mobile gadgets and software.
The auctioned airwaves will be transferred next year from TV stations, which are switching from analog to digital broadcasts. These government-owned airwaves are considered prime real estate on the radio spectrum because of their ability to penetrate walls and send signals farther with less power.
The record-setting auction brought in more than $19-billion in bids, including $6.6-billion from AT&T and $9.4-billion from Verizon Wireless, which won licenses for every state except Alaska.
AT&T said Friday it will pay an initial down payment of $1.3-billion to the Federal Communications Commission for its portion of wireless spectrum licenses.
AT&T says it will pay the down payment, within the next 10 business days, according to a regulatory filing. The remaining balance of $5.3-billion will be paid on or before April 17.
Verizon Wireless, jointly owned by New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. and Britain's Vodafone Group PLC, said before the auction that by year's end its customers will be able to use cell phones and mobile applications from other firms.