Auction Preview: Silver & Vertu Signature Auction at Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Oct 17

What: Sale of Intricate Silverworks and Jewelry

Where: Heritage Auctions, Design District Showroom, 1518 Slocum Street, Dallas, TX 75207

When: Oct 17, 2017, 10.00 am CT

Public Viewing: October 13 – 17, 2017

The auction features a selection of intricate and rare silver objects from silver flatware, hollowware, silver smalls, to estate jewelry, Asian art, and decorative arts.

Top Lots of the Sale:

– An Asprey 18K Gold, Diamond, Mother-of-Pearl, and Gemstone Tri-Fold Frame, London, 20th century,  5-1/8 inches high x 13 inches wide (13.0 x 33.0 cm) (fully extended). Estimate: US$ 100,000-US$150,000

– A Pair of German Silver and Hardstone-Mounted Jousting Knight Figures, probably Hanau, early 20th century, 14 inches high (35.6 cm) (each, including bases). Estimate: US$ 17,000 – US$20,000

– A Large R & S Garrard & Co. Victorian Silver Nautical Figural Trophy, London, 1863, 22-3/4 inches high (57.8 cm) (trophy), 28 inches high (71.1 cm) (including base). Estimate: US$ 30,000 – US$ 50,000

– A Matthew Boulton Silver and Cut-Glass Epergne, Birmingham, England, 1825, 19-3/8 inches high x 19 inches wide (49.2 x 48.3 cm). Estimate: US$ 15,000 – US$ 20,000

– An Eleven-Piece Cased French Enameled Silver Lady’s Vanity Set Retailed by Cartier, circa 1910, 9-3/4 inches long (24.8 cm) (longest, brush). Estimate: US$ 15,000 – US$ 25,000

– A Fabergé 14K Gold, Gilt Silver, Opalescent Enamel, Moss Agate, and Diamond Vanity Case, workmaster’s marks for Henrik Wigstrom, St. Petersburg, Russia, 0-5/8 h x 4-1/8 w x 1-5/8 d inches (1.6 x 10.5 x 4.1 cm). Estimate: US$ 20,000 – US$ 30,000

– A Twelve-Piece International Silver Co. Art Deco Silver and Enamel Cocktail Service, circa 1930, comprising tray, pitcher, and ten stems. Estimate: US$ 15,000 – US$ 20,000

For details, visit:

Click on the slideshow for the highlights of the sale

Vertu’s phones still remain expensive despite Auction – TechSource International

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 12.52.30

In July, iconic British phone manufacturer Vertu pulled down its shutters and entered liquidation after the exiled Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Uzan failed to rescue the company from bankruptcy.

The company caused job losses for up to 200 of its employees and now on Friday, Vertu’s museum collection of handsets went to the auction for sale by liquidators. The British luxury phone maker was forced to sell all the contents from its British plant located in Hampshire, in the United Kingdom including awards, ultra-luxury phones, drawings, designs and statues.

Vertu’s Clous De Paris Red Gold Signature phone that were encrusted in jewels and 18-karat gold sold for over £35,600 or USD$46,000.

Vertu's Signature range of Smartphones

Vertu’s Signature range of Smartphones

For those unfamiliar, Vertu was a British boutique phone maker, that was popular among the global rich and famous but yet was unable to attract newer customers, leading to its failure. 

The company’s ultra-exorbitant handsets boasted of customised solid gold, sapphire glass, titanium, precious jewels, and alligator leather. For instance, one of luxury phone maker’s Signature handset that were launched for £14,500 (USD$18,750) during its heyday, was sold at the auction for £11,200 (USD$14,500) whereas the ones like Clous De Paris Red Gold Signature phone that were encrusted in jewels and 18-karat gold sold for over £35,600  or USD$46,000.

Vertu Puts Up Entire Catalogue of 105 Models On Auction, Bid Starts At $26,000

UK based luxury phone manufacturer Vertu has put up all the entire catalogue of phones in the Vertu museum on auction. This is all part of the company’s winding-up process and is by the order of the liquidator appointed to liquidate the company’s asset. The entire collection of the Vertu museum includes 105 iconic phones and appearance models. The phones that will be in the collection will include models from the Signature, Constellation & Ascent Range right from when the first model was launched in 1998. Some the phones contain finishing with 18 carat gold, titanium, stainless steel, diamond and other precious stones.  Vertu SIGNATURE Cobra Limited Edition

The auction is coordinated by auctioneer G J Wisdom & Co and bidding starts at £20,000 ($26,000). This price is definitely a decent one for 105 phones considering that Vertu used to sell only a single unit for as high as $30,000 when the company was still booming. But now, the company is being liquidated and anything would do so that the creditors would recoup some of their money. The auction does not seem to include the recently launched premium models like the Signature Cobra priced at $360K.

Read More: Vertu SIGNATURE Cobra Limited Edition is Priced at $360K, Along with Delivery Via Helicopter

Vertu is well-known for rugged looking models with a premium design adorning ornaments such as gold, diamond and others on the body. The company has been in debt for a while now, with its debt burden estimated to be to the tune of 128 million pounds. The company was announced to have been bought by an exiled Turkish businessman but he has been unable to settle the huge pile of debt, hence the liquidation. The bid process will close by 7 pm (UK time) on today (August 11).


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Chair-ity Live Auction takes action to Facebook to aid young cancer patients, families | Entertainment

While many are inspired to stand up to fight cancer, an upcoming fundraiser invites you to take a seat. The Chair-ity Live Auction, taking place Sunday on Facebook, allows do-gooders to do good from the comfort of their home or wherever their smartphone takes them.

The event features bundles in nine categories — Backyard Americana, Man Cave, Children’s Reading, Pet Bed, Coffee, Disney, Secret Garden, Beachin’ and Western — that are up for auction. Teams assemble each collection, which includes a themed chair or some form of seating along with baskets with assorted goodies.

For the Beachin’ package, people will bid on the bundle including a Adirondack chair with umbrella, throw blanket and pillow, agate coasters, two custom sea glass necklaces, bucket of Coronas and beer salt, beach towels, extra-large cooler tote bag, gift cards and more. The Man Cave boasts two barstools made from kegs, beer crate with six-pack of beer, manly cookbook and candles, bacon jerky, custom-made bottle cap mirror, Lengthwise growlers and glassware, dart board and more.

Other inventories are posted on the Facebook event page, accessible via the Second Star to the Right’s page (

This is the fourth year that the local group, which helps children with cancer and their families, has held the auction. Jennifer Meiners, who is helping organize the fundraiser, said the group raised $5,000 last year and hopes to double that for 2017.

Bidding will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Those who want to bid need only select “interested” or “going” on the event page to keep up on the bidding and take part. Organizers will follow up after the auction closes and make arrangements for payment and delivery, Meiners said.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

U.S. astronaut Armstrong’s moon bag to fetch up to $4 million at auction

The Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag used by astronaut Neil Armstrong is displayed for Sotheby's Space Exploration auction in New York City, U.S., July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  .
Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag used by astronaut
Neil Armstrong is displayed for Sotheby’s Space Exploration
auction in New York


By Taylor Harris

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The long-lost bag used by U.S. astronaut
Neil Armstrong to bring back to Earth the first samples of moon
dust is expected to sell for up to $4 million when it is
auctioned with other space memorabilia next week in New York

The sale at international art auction house Sotheby’s also
features the Apollo 13 flight plan annotated by its crew, a
spacesuit worn by U.S. astronaut Gus Grissom, and lunar
photographs taken by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA).

The auction will be held on July 20, the 48th anniversary of the
first moon landing, and organizers hope it will draw large

“It (space) is one of few subjects that I think are not
culturally specific. It doesn’t matter your religion, where
you’re from, what language you speak,” Cassandra Hatton, a vice
president and senior specialist at Sotheby’s, said on Wednesday.

“We all have the common experience of staring up at the sky and
wondering what’s going on amongst the stars.”

The fate of the bag, which measures 12 inches by 8.5 inches and
is labeled “Lunar Sample Return”, was unknown for decades after
Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crew came home in July 1969.

For years it sat in a box, unidentified, at the Johnson Space
Center in Houston, Hatton said.

It ultimately surfaced in the garage of the manager of a Kansas
museum, Max Ary, who was convicted of its theft in 2014,
according to court records.

The bag was seized by the U.S. Marshals Service which put it up
for auction three times, drawing no bids, until it was bought in
2015 for $995 by a Chicago-area attorney, Nancy Lee Carlson.

She sent the bag to NASA for authentication, and when tests
revealed it was used by Armstrong and still had moon dust traces
inside, the U.S. space agency decided to keep it.

Carlson successfully sued NASA to get the bag back, and the
attention created by her legal challenge prompted many inquiries
from potential buyers, according to Sotheby’s. That led Carlson
to decide to auction it again.

Hatton said she was sure the bag would find a good home. Such
artifacts usually go through the hands of several different
owners over the years, she added.

“Just know that the kind of person that would pay money like this
for this item is going to take excellent care of it,” Hatton
said. “Nothing is lost forever.”

(Reporting by Taylor Harris; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Diane

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2017. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

The Twisty Tale of an Apollo 11 Lunar Sample, Set to Go Up For Auction

Shortly after becoming the first man to walk on the moon’s surface in July 1969, Neil Armstrong collected a few scoops of dust and some rocks from the lunar region known as the Sea of Tranquility and placed them in a decontamination bag he stashed in the pocket of his spacesuit. As the result of a complex chain of events that few could have predicted, the New York auction house Sotheby’s will offer that very same square, zippered pouch, smeared with lunar dust, as part of its Space Exploration sale on July 20, the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. According to Sotheby’s, the bag is expected to fetch between $2-4 million.

About two years ago, the Chicago-area attorney Nancy Lee Carlson was perusing an online auction site when she saw a listing for a bag containing “lunar dust” as part of an auction on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service. No one had bid on the item in three previous auctions, and Carlson easily won the lot (which also included several other items) with a bid of $995.

As she later told Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal, Carlson had been fascinated by the moon landings growing up, and set out to confirm the history of her new purchase. In September 2015, she shipped the bag, which was marked “lunar sample return,” to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for testing.

Apollo 11 moon landing
Image courtesy Sotheby’s

When NASA tested the pouch, they found it definitely contained lunar dust, a fine grey powder resembling graphite. In fact, it contained some of the very first moon dust ever collected, by the Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong back in July 1969. After Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin returned to Earth, the bag containing the lunar sample had somehow been misplaced and forgotten; it wasn’t included with the hundreds of Apollo 11 artifacts Johnson Space Center sent to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

According to later court records, around 1981 NASA reportedly lent the bag to Max Ary, who was then the director of a museum called the Kansas Cosmosphere. Ary was later convicted of theft after he auctioned off some other NASA artifacts; he served two years in prison. When the FBI raided his home, they seized a number of artifacts including the zippered bag with the lunar sample. After being turned over to the U.S. Marshals, it was auctioned off to pay restitution in the case.

Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin during an Apollo 11 EVA on the surface of the Moon (Credit: NASA/Newsmakers)

NASA refused to send the bag back to Carlson, saying it was government property, an in mid-2016, Carlson sued the agency in U.S. District Court in Chicago for wrongful seizure of property. She won that case in December, and NASA was forced to return the item. The agency decided not to appeal the court’s decision, but a spokesman told Crow that NASA believes the dust should be displayed to the public, as it “represents the culmination of a massive national effort involving a generation of Americans, including the astronauts who risked their lives in an effort to accomplish the most significant act humankind has ever achieved.”

Carlson brought the bag to Sotheby’s, where it will go on sale as the centerpiece of the auction house’s Space Exploration sale in New York on July 20, the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. It will be the first space-focused sale Sotheby’s has held since the 1990s, when they held two hugely popular auctions of material from the Soviet space program.

Apollo 11 moon landing
Image courtesy Sotheby’s

The auction house expects the pouch containing lunar dust to bring in as much as $2-4 million, due to both its rarity and its enormous historic importance. “It’s fantastic that there’s moon dust on it, don’t get me wrong,” Cassandra Hatton, a vice president and senior specialist at Sotheby’s, told HISTORY. “But I think the role that it plays in this mission is far more important. The fact that it was the bag used to protect the first lunar samples, and it was something that was used on the Apollo 11 mission, by the first man that walked on the moon. As a relic of history, it’s far more important than moon dust.”

Though some lunar samples have been known to show up on the black market, the July event also represents the first legal sale of artifacts from the historic mission. While there’s technically no law saying an individual can’t own lunar material, Hatton explained, NASA retained tight control of all the material collected during the missions. “They didn’t allow anybody to give it as gifts to individuals, none of the astronauts were allowed to keep any dust or rocks,” she noted. “So if you were in possession of dust or rocks, it would have to have been stolen. That is their position. But this–because it was sold on behalf of the U.S. government, it becomes a different story.”

A footprint left on the surface of the moon by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts during their historic lunar EVA, July 1969. (Credit: Space Frontiers/Getty Images)
A footprint left on the surface of the moon by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts during their historic lunar EVA, July 1969. (Credit: Space Frontiers/Getty Images)

According to Sotheby’s, Carlson plans to donate some of the proceeds from the sale of the bag to various charities, including the Immune Deficiency Foundation and the Bay Cliff Health Camp Children’s Therapy and Wellness Center. She also intends to set up a scholarship for students studying speech pathology at Northern Michigan University, her alma mater.

Aside from the moon dust-smeared Apollo 11 collection bag, the Space Exploration sale at Sotheby’s will feature a wide array of other material, ranging from books signed by astronauts to spacesuits to photographs, maps and globes. Hatton told HISTORY that one artifact, which had just arrived on her desk, “just knocked my socks off the moment I opened up the box, when I realized what it was.” The original flight plan from Apollo 13, the document actually flew with the astronauts during that historic mission, and contains all their annotations. It was given as a gift to Bob Lindsey, who helped write the Apollo 13 flight plan, as a thank-you, Hatton explained. “Fred Haise [Apollo 13’s lunar module pilot] actually inscribed it to him, and Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert signed it.”

Apollo 11 Bag NASA’s Johnson Space Center Lost After Court Battle Set to Go to Auction at Sotheby’s

Right after astronaut Neil Armstrong took that first “small step for man” on the surface of the moon in July 1969, he scooped up some lunar rocks, tucked them into a bag and brought them back to Earth. The moon rocks ended up in NASA hands just as expected, but the bag did not.

Instead, the bag, thought lost, was accidentally sold at a federal public auction in 2015 for $995 to Nancy Lee Carlson, a collector of space memorabilia and lawyer from the Chicago suburbs. And now it is slated to go on the auction block again, at Sotheby’s this time, where it is expected to fetch between $2 million to $4 million.

NASA’s lunar objects generally are not allowed to be privately owned, so the curators at Sotheby’s auction house have concluded that this bag is likely one of the only ones in the world that can be legally sold due to a court ruling earlier this year that found Carlson to be the bag’s owner.

Of course, the bag Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used to collect moon rocks was never supposed to be sold at auction, but that’s what happened due to the combined forces of good old fashioned theft and an inventory screw-up.

More than a decade ago, various space artifacts, including museum pieces and items on loan from NASA, started disappearing from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, triggering a U.S. Marshals Service investigation. In the end, it turned out the culprit behind the missing items was the man who had put the Kansas space museum on the map in the first place, museum curator Max Ary, according to court records.

While he’d been building up the museum collection, Ary had also been swiping and selling off hundreds of artifacts from the federal space program, as we’ve noted before. During the investigation, in 2003, government officials found a white bag in Ary’s garage. It turned out the bag was the one Armstrong and Aldrin had used to collect moon rocks when they made history with the first lunar landing in 1969, but because of mixed-up inventory lists and item numbers, the government officials didn’t know what they actually had.

And so they put the bag and other space artifacts on the auction block, where Carlson snapped it up for $995. (The bag that federal officials had assumed was the Apollo 11 bag — it was actually a bag from Apollo 17 — had sold at auction for $21,000 years before.)

Carlson sent the bag to the Johnson Space Center to find out what mission it had been used on. That’s where the situation got complicated because upon examining the bag, JSC officials realized it was the one used on the Apollo 11 mission, still with the gray dust from the surface of the moon still ingrained in the fabric. NASA officials refused to give it back to Carlson and kept it at the JSC.

Carlson took NASA to court to get her bag back and earlier this year a federal judge in Kansas ruled that he lacked  the authority to nullify the sale of the bag and left it up to a federal judge in Houston to actually enforce the ruling. In March, U.S. District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore in Houston ordered NASA to hand over the bag, as we noted.

“This artifact, we believe, belongs to the American people and should be on display for the public, which is where it was before all of these unfortunate events occurred,” NASA stated after the decision was issued.

Carlson rolled up to the JSC, a security guard in an unmarked car in tow, and reclaimed the bag shortly after the ruling in March.

While Carlson had originally planned to keep the bag and to go around and show it at local schools, once the whole ordeal became national news her plans changed, according to the Chicago Tribune. Some of the proceeds will go to the Immune Deficiency Foundation and Bay Cliff Health Camp, according to Sotheby’s, while Carlson plans to set up a scholarship for speech pathology at North Michigan University, her alma mater.

So despite the Indiana Jones-esque frustration of NASA officials, the bag will be sold on July 20, the 48th anniversary of the moment Armstrong first set foot on the moon.

NASA stated via email that despite the federal agency’s disappointment in seeing the bag in the public domain, they have accepted the court’s decision. But that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.

“This artifact was never meant to be owned by an individual. Moreover, this artifact is important, not just for its scientific value, but also because it represents the culmination of a massive national effort involving a generation of Americans, including the astronauts who risked their lives in an effort to accomplish the most significant act humankind has ever achieved,” the statement goes. “This artifact, we believe, belongs to the American people and should be on display for the public, which is where it was before all of these unfortunate events occurred. “

Functioning Apple-1 fetches $130k at auction, far less than initial expectations

Earlier this year, we told you about a functioning Apple-1 computer that would go up for auction in Germany on May 20th. As planned, the auction took place yesterday and brought in $130,000, far less than initial expectations…

Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

At the time of the auction announcement, experts were anticipating the Apple-1 to go for around $320,000, meaning there was a big gap between expectations and what ended up being the case. The auction was won by a German engineer who collects old computers.

German auctioneer Team Breker advertised that this Apple-1 was “the best preserved example of an Apple-1 computer to appear on the market.” The machine was said to be in full working order and include original operation documents, circuit diagrams, and purported notes of telephone calls between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1977.

The original owner of the Apple-1 explained that he bought the machine in 1976 and still had the receipts for it (via News24).

“(The Apple 1) was one of the first opportunities for someone to possess a real computer. I’d been working with computers for a while but they were huge,” said original owner John J Dryden, who bought the Apple in 1976.

While this Apple-1 missed its own expectations in terms of selling price, it also sold for far less than other Apple-1 models have. In 2014, a working Apple-1 was auctioned for  $365,000, while the year prior a model signed by Wozniak went for $671,000. Another unit was auctioned in 2015 and expected to sell for over half a million dollars. Most impressively, a special “Celebration” edition Apple-1 fetched $815,000 in auction, though falling short of lofty $1 million estimates.

Some attribute the decline in Apple-1 to prices to them falling back to normal after a spike following the death of Steve Jobs. Nevertheless, there are believed to be only 8 working Apple-1 machines in the world today, making this an incredible piece of memorabilia.

Collection bag from Apollo 11 moon mission to be sold at auction | Reuters

<span class="articleLocation”>It is a simple, square white bag that traveled to the moon in 1969 on Apollo 11 and carried back to Earth the first sample of lunar material ever collected. That bag could fetch up to $4 million when it goes on the auction block at Sotheby’s New York in July.

The bag – which contains remnants of moon dust and is labeled “LUNAR SAMPLE RETURN” – is a collection pouch used by astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, during the Apollo 11 mission. The bag was used to hold rocks and dust from the lunar region known as the Sea of Tranquility.

Scheduled for July 20, the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the auction will be the first legal sale of such an artifact from the mission, Jim Hull, head of exhibits and artifacts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said in a telephone interview on Friday.

While there are legal restrictions on sales of material from moon missions, including lunar rocks and dust, it is believed some items have been sold on the black market.

The bag wound up at Sotheby’s after a roundabout journey that included an attempt by NASA to get it back from its current owner.

Apollo 11 blasted off on July 16, 1969, with three astronauts aboard. Four days later, Armstrong and astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin flew the spacecraft Eagle down to the moon’s surface. As part of the mission, the astronauts gathered lunar samples.

After nearly 22 hours on the moon, Armstrong and Aldrin returned to the lunar module, lifted off and rejoined Michael Collins in the Columbia spacecraft for the journey back to Earth. They landed on July 24 and received a hero’s welcome.

But the collection pouch got mixed up with other sample bags that were never used to hold lunar materials, Hull said.

At one point, the bag was seized the U.S. Department of Justice during an investigation, and then mistakenly auctioned off to its current owner, Chicago-area attorney Nancy Lee Carlson.

Interested in the history of the bag, Carlson sent it to be analyzed by NASA, which confirmed its provenance through testing.

Ownership of both moon rocks or dust and artifacts from lunar missions is generally restricted, Hull said, and upon identifying the bag and finding that it contained remnants of lunar dust, the space agency sought to keep it.

But NASA lost a legal fight to keep the bag, and a U.S. District Court judge ordered it returned to Carlson in February.

Sotheby’s expects the artifact to fetch between $2 million and $4 million, according to an emailed statement. Hull called the bag “invaluable” because it contains lunar dust and was used on such a famous mission.

Carlson paid only $995 for the bag as part of a mixed batch of items.

Sotheby’s said Carlson plans to donate a portion of the sale proceeds to charity and to establish a scholarship at her alma mater, Northern Michigan University.

(Reporting by Tom James; Editing by Patrick Enright and Jonathan Oatis)

FCC spectrum auction means better wireless from T-Mobile


James Martin/CNET

It’s a good time to be a wireless customer.

Unlimited data is back. Prices are falling. And thanks to the conclusion of the Federal Communications Commission’s latest wireless spectrum auction, consumers could have a greater choice of carriers going forward.

Thursday marked the end of the FCC’s Incentive Auction, which will shift valuable spectrum away from TV broadcasters to companies that want to offer wireless service.

Spectrum is what those companies will use to shuttle work emails, cat videos, and any number of other things to your phone, and this particular swath is highly prized — industry insiders call it “beachfront property” — because it can cover greater distances and go through walls for better coverage indoors.

The auction represented one of the best chances for wireless companies to get more spectrum. It could also reshape the wireless industry, giving smaller carriers a chance to offer you the same strong nationwide coverage as Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which, combined, control more than 70 percent of the US wireless market.

To help you better understand what it all means for you, CNET has put together this FAQ.

Refresh my memory. What’s wireless spectrum again?

Spectrum is the range of radio frequencies used to transmit sound, data and video to TVs and phones.

More spectrum means faster and more-reliable wireless service. But spectrum is a limited resource and it’s controlled, for the most part, by the US government. Companies can get their hands on it if they participate in auctions, acquire a company with spectrum holdings or buy licenses from each other in a secondary market.

More spectrum is needed to handle the ever-increasing amount of data traffic we’re creating over phones, tablets, cars and other machines.

Why is this particular spectrum so important?

The 600 megahertz band, which is the spectrum sold in this auction, has traditionally been used to transmit TV signals. It’s likely the last time the government will be able to auction off such spectrum.

Low-band spectrum is great at penetrating walls and going across long distances, which means carriers don’t need to put up a cell tower on every block. It can also help the carriers keep up with rising customer demands for coverage.

AT&T and Verizon, the big winners in the last auction of low-band spectrum, in 2008, have built the foundation of their 4G LTE networks on low-band 700MHz spectrum, a sliver of spectrum that was once used for broadcast TV.

T-Mobile, the nation’s third-largest wireless provider, has been trying to assemble a similar set of assets for its own network. But for the most part, it lacked significant amounts of low-band spectrum. Until now.

(Check out CNET’s full explanation of wireless spectrum.)

What was different about this auction?

The Incentive Auction was really a twofer. A reverse auction allowed TV broadcasters to sell their airwaves back to the government, and then a forward auction had the government selling those same airwaves to wireless companies. In exchange for giving up their spectrum, broadcasters are getting about $10 billion.

How much money did the auction raise for the government?

The auction raised a total of $19.8 billion. Estimates going into the auction had been as high as $60 billion, but many in the industry realized that wasn’t realistic, given carriers’ constrained budgets. The 700MHz auction nine years ago raised $19.6 billion. The AWS-3 auction in 2015 raked in a record-setting $45 billion.

Who were the big winners in this auction?

T-Mobile, Dish Network and Comcast came out on top.

T-Mobile spent $8 billion in the auction and won 31MHz of spectrum, according to the FCC. Dish Network was second, committing $6.2 billion for 18MHz, and Comcast spent $1.7 billion. Verizon, which had committed ahead of time to participating in the auction, didn’t bid, the FCC said. AT&T spent less than $1 billion. US Cellular spent $328 million.

Notably missing from the auction was fourth-ranked carrier Sprint, which decided beforehand not to participate.


Were there any surprises in the auction results?

Yes and no. T-Mobile was expected to be a big player in the auction, and that’s just what happened.

Because the FCC recognizes how critical low-band spectrum is in creating a company that could rival AT&T and Verizon, the agency carved out a sliver especially for smaller players like T-Mobile and some rural operators to bid on without going up against the deep pockets of AT&T and Verizon. As a result, AT&T and Verizon weren’t expected to bid aggressively in this auction, especially since they already had plenty of low-band spectrum.

Still, it’s surprising that Verizon didn’t bid at all.

Also unexpected was Dish spending as much as it did. Dish, which has amassed nearly 80MHz of spectrum from previous auctions, was also aggressive in the 2014 auction, emerging as one of the top bidders and spending around $10 billion. It’s unclear what Dish will do with the spectrum it already owns and the licenses it just picked up. It’s possible the company will look for a partner or will create a fixed wireless service that serves as an alternate broadband connection to DSL or cable.

The third big surprise in the auction was that Comcast, the third-highest bidder, didn’t walk away with more spectrum. The cable giant earlier this month announced pricing for its wireless service that will use a combination of its Wi-Fi network and capacity it’s leased from Verizon to offer an unlimited wireless data service. The company is offering discounts to customers who buy wireless with its internet or TV services.

Yeah, but how does this affect me?

T-Mobile’s big win means it could become a stronger alternative to AT&T and Verizon in the next few years. T-Mobile has traditionally had weak signals outside major cities, but the spectrum from this auction will help it cover more regions of the US, especially in the suburbs and rural areas.

When will I actually see these changes?

T-Mobile’s chief technology officer, Neville Ray, said on Twitter on Thursday that T-Mobile expects to get some of its new spectrum in use later this year. He added that devices using the 600MHz frequency will also be available later this year.

That said, TV broadcasters have 39 months to move off their spectrum positions before handing the licenses over to the FCC. So it could take years before all the spectrum allocated in this auction is put to use by wireless operators.

The good news for consumers is that the clock is already ticking.

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