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Verizon, MetroPCS snare more air

Bankrupt NextWave puts wireless spectrum licenses up for auction. Verizon snaps up New York airwaves; MetroPCS hones in on Florida.

Verizon Wireless acquired spectrum in New York City and MetroPCS snapped up airwaves in Florida during a recent bankruptcy auction.

Verizon's $930 million bid was the minimum that bankrupt NextWave Telecom asked in exchange for 10 megahertz of spectrum covering New York, northern and central New Jersey, Westchester and Rockland counties.

Verizon, the nation's largest cell phone service provider, plans to use the spectrum licenses to expand its network's capacity for voice and data services.

MetroPCS, a Dallas-based cellular carrier, will pay $43.5 million for NextWave spectrum in Florida areas including Tampa and Sarasota.

Both deals require the approval of the Federal Communications Commission and a White Plains, N.Y., bankruptcy court, the site of NextWave's bankruptcy filing.

NextWave did not auction spectrum in Denver; Portland, Ore.; and Tulsa, Okla., as had been expected. In a statement disclosing the auction results, the company did not provide a reason for backing out of those cities. A company representative was not immediately available for comment.

NextWave obtained the licenses as a start-up eight years ago, and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. A bruising legal battle between NextWave and the FCC came to a conclusion this year, allowing for this week's auction to go forward.