America completes its third-biggest spectrum auction

The US Federal Communications Commission, FCC, announced the completion of its auction to award spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band. Total proceeds of $22.5 billion making it the third biggest spectrum auction.

The auction pool consisted of 4,060 available generic blocks in the 3.45–3.55 GHz band. The clock phase of the auction ended already in November 2021. The phase saw winners of 4,041 blocks and resulted in a high value, totalling $21.89 billion. The assignment phase ran until early January 2022 and added only half a billion to the total price.

And the winner is…

AT&T won most licences – 1,624 – at a cost of $9.1 billion. Dish–bidding as Weminuche came in second with a spend of $7.3 billion for 1,232 licences, reported

FCC listed the top five bidders in terms of price. After AT&T and Dish, T-Mobile followed with $2.9 billion he paid for 199 licences.

Three Forty-Five Spectrum paid nearly $1.4 billion and the United States Cellular something more than $0.5 billion.

The prices paid did not necessarily reflect the number of licences. While for the first two – AT&T and Dish – the ranking in terms of the number of licences remain unchanged, T-Mobile placed only the fifth.

The third and fourth place in the number of licences belongs to United States Cellular and Cherry Wireless, respectively.

Spectrum as an opportunity for the small ones

Thirteen of the twenty-three companies qualified as small businesses or as entities serving rural communities.  In addition, compared to the prior 5G auction, this auction saw a substantial increase in the number of winning bidders per market. Over one-third of the top 100 markets have at least four winning bidders. 

Collectively, the 3.45 GHz band and the neighbouring 3.5 GHz and 3.7 GHz bands represent 530 MHz of mid-band spectrum for 5G, the next generation of wireless services.

According to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the results of the mid-band spectrum auction for 5G confirmed FCC’s right move.  The auction would create opportunities for a wider variety of competitors. Among the small businesses and rural service providers.

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