Telecom & Wireless

Verizon and Dish Dominate FCC Spectrum Auction for 5G Ambitions

The wireless market has become one of the most important aspects of the new economy. Think about everything that society does on its mobile phones and other connected devices, as well as television and media. One issue that has lagged is that wireless carriers have to own the spectrum rights to be able operate, and many carriers need more spectrum to facilitate their 5G ambitions.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released its latest winning results of its 3.5 GHz band auction. This summer’s auction was for a total of 70 megahertz of Priority Access Licenses that were in the 3550 MHz to 3650 MHz bands. According to the FCC, this marked the greatest number of spectrum licenses ever awarded in a single FCC auction and the net proceeds came to more than $4.54 billion.

While all carriers have their own measurement of what really accounts for 5G, anyone using a cellphone or wireless device could probably have figured out that most carriers need more spectrum. After looking through the list of more than 200 bidders, some 20,625 of 22,631 of the available licenses were won.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) won the lion share of the auction in raw dollars, with winning bids of more than $1.89 billion for 557 licenses covering 157 counties.

Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) had winning bids under its Wetterhorn Wireless subsidiary that came to $912.9 million. This is to help the company build its new wireless carrier. This unit actually won the highest number of Priority Access Licenses at 5,492, covering 3,128 counties.

Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) had winning bids of $464.2 million under its Spectrum Wireless Holdings unit for 210 licenses in 106 counties. Charter has been looking to improve on services to homes and to get more pushed out to mobile devices.

XF Wireless Investment won 830 licenses covering 306 counties for net winning bids of $458.7 million.

Cox Communications won 470 licenses with net bids of $212.8 million.

T-Mobile US Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) spent only $6 million in the wake of its Sprint merger, which had already solidified its position with massive spectrum holdings. That acquisition should put it in the place where it needs no spectrum for years.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) appears to have spent no funds in the auction, unless some of the smaller winners out of the 2000-plus group of entities were subsidiaries of the company.