It’s been a busy day in the telecommunications world. A few hours after Dish Network today announced its $25.5 billion bid for Sprint, the Wall Street Journalreported that Verizon offered to buy Clearwire spectrum leases for $1.5 billion.
Demand for wireless spectrum is at an all-time high. The shortage of it is the reason for dropped calls, streaming glitches and other annoyances. Besides cursing out your network carrier, there’s another culprit: The US government, which controls the airwaves and licenses spectrum for commercial use.
The last time there was a major auction for spectrum was 2008. So instead, mobile phone companies have been scrambling to buy existing spectrum from each other and from cable companies. In January, AT&T bought spectrum from Verizon for $1.9 billion. Last year Verizon bought $3.9 billion worth of spectrum from cable companies.