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T-Mobile led a government auction of wireless airwaves, as the fastest-growing US mobile carrier expands its network to accommodate more customers.

The industry disruptor bought $8bn of the $19bn total spent on spectrum used to power smartphones and tablets, the FCC said.

DISH, the satellite group, spent $6bn, double that of consensus forecasts, sending its shares down about 2 per cent in afternoon trading.

However the larger players stayed on the sidelines. AT&T bought less than $1bn in airwaves, and Verizon, the biggest US telecoms operator by customers, did not participate.

The auction comes amid a bruising industry price war, in which Sprint and T-Mobile have tried to steal market share from their larger competitors by offering eye-catching promotions.

Most importantly to investors, the close of the auction ends a “quiet period” during which the telecoms groups were banned from talking with each other. As rumours swirl about consolidation in US telecoms, analysts and investors predict talks to kick off once the quiet period ends on April 27, with T-Mobile eyed as a likely takeover target.

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