The most lucrative airwaves sale in U.S. history ended Tuesday with bids totaling $19.6 billion, underscoring demand from AT&T and...

Share story

The most lucrative airwaves sale in U.S. history ended Tuesday with bids totaling $19.6 billion, underscoring demand from AT&T and Verizon Wireless for spectrum that will bolster Internet services on mobile phones.

Revenue from the auction came in near the top of analysts’ projections of as much as $20 billion. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hasn’t decided when it will disclose the winners of the 1,099 licenses, Chairman Kevin Martin said.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Google and 211 other companies and combinations of companies battled for airwaves that are being counted on to speed up Internet access on phones.

The airwaves, which went on sale Jan. 24, will become available when television broadcasters switch to digital signals next February.

A $472 million offer for public-safety airwaves known as the D-block fell short of the reserve price of $1.3 billion. The FCC now must craft a new plan to sell the D-block, which was designed to be shared by emergency services and commercial customers.