Verizon spends $45.4B to secure just over 3,500 licenses.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the winning bidders and final bid totals for the C-Band Auction (Auction 107) yesterday. Both net and gross winning bids totaled $81.1 billion. Twenty-one bidders won all of the available 5,684 licenses.
“It is essential to America’s economic recovery that we deliver on the promise of next-generation wireless services for everyone, everywhere,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “This auction reflects a shift in our nation’s approach to 5G toward mid-band spectrum that can support fast, reliable, and ubiquitous service that is competitive with our global peers. Now we have to work fast to put this spectrum to use in service of the American people. Special thanks go to our great FCC auctions team, and their colleagues in the Wireless Telecommunications and International Bureaus, among others, for this success.”
Largest gross winning bid totals
Cellco Partnership (Verizon) ended the C-Band Auction with the highest total gross winning bid amount of $45.4 billion. AT&T Spectrum Frontiers ($23.4 billion), T-Mobile ($9.3 billion), U.S. Cellular Corporation ($1.28 billion) and NewLevel II ($1.27 billion) rounded out the top five.
“Yes, $45 billion (not including accelerated clearing costs) is a lot of money even for Verizon,” BitPath COO Sasha Javid wrote in his C-Band Auction analysis. “But they also got coverage across the entire continental U.S. with an average depth of over eight blocks. In addition, they acquired 60% of the available A blocks (which should clear by December of this year) at an average premium on a ‘fully-loaded’ basis of just 20% over the BC blocks (which clear in December 2023). Verizon was clearly willing to take some short term pain against their ‘cap’ to ensure that their key asset did not slip away.”
“AT&T did enough to stay competitive and roughly in line with what I thought at the close of the clock stage,” Javid wrote. “Their $23 billion spend netted them an average of almost four blocks across the country, and roughly 40% of the available A blocks. I guess they realize that wireless may still be a better bet than streaming services, and certainly better than satellite TV.”
Most licenses won
Verizon’s largest gross bid also netted it the most licenses from the C-Band auction with 3,511. AT&T landed the second most (1,621) while U.S. Cellular (254), T-Mobile (142) and Canopy Spectrum (84) comprised the rest of the top five in licenses won.
“Given the many stakeholders involved, the success of this auction was far from a guarantee, and many challenges related to the transition remain ahead,” Javid wrote. “But this marks a significant step forward for the U.S. to close the mid-band spectrum gap. The 3.45-3.55 GHz auction slated for October further closes the gap with China. Let’s just hope that the robust spending during this auction does not result in new ‘spectrum fees’ buried in consumers’ bills. That would exacerbate the digital divide that Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel wants to close so badly.”
Joe Dyton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.