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Courtesy of T-Mobile

The major buyers in a closely watched government airwaves auction include T-Mobile, Dish Network and Comcast, the FCC said on Thursday.

Why it matters: The auction was the first of its kind, where the FCC bought valuable airwaves from broadcasters and resold it to wireless carriers. The winners — smaller wireless competitor T-Mobile and relative wireless newcomers Comcast and Dish — have ambitions to expand their services to take on dominant wireless providers AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

"T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the country. That is a BFD for our customers!" — T-Mobile CEO John Legere

The details: T-Mobile spent more than any other buyer — almost $8 billion — for the largest number of spectrum licenses. Dish followed with $6.2 billion in bids. Comcast and financial firm Columbia Capital were also linked to major winning bidders. AT&T spent roughly $910 million, putting it among some of the larger bidders, and Verizon didn't end up with any spectrum.

Key context: The auction raised less money than some had predicted, bringing in $10.05 billion for broadcasters and sending $7.3 billion to the federal treasury for deficit reduction. Wireless carriers bid $19.8 billion in total. But officials bristled at the idea that expectations had not been met. "The equilibrium was found, the auction mechanism worked," said Gary Epstein, who led the auction.

What's next: The agency begins the complex process of redistributing the spectrum bought and sold as part of the auction, which includes moving some broadcasters to new frequencies.

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

5 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.