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FCC completes large scale 5G spectrum auction

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has completed auction 103, which has made 3,400MHz of millimetre wave spectrum available in the upper 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz bands.

The auction had a total of $7,558,703,201 in net bids, with 28 bidders winning a total of 14,142 of 14,144, or more than 99.9%, of available licenses.

“The successful conclusion of Auction 103—the largest amount of spectrum offered in an auction in U.S. history—is one more significant step the FCC has taken toward maintaining American leadership in 5G,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

The licences on offer were made available as existing 39GHz licensees gave up their 39GHz spectrum usage rights in exchange for incentive payments determined by bidding in auction 103.

“A critical part of our 5G FAST plan is pushing more spectrum into the commercial marketplace. Last year, the FCC auctioned the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands. All told, those two auctions and this one have made available almost five gigahertz of high-band spectrum for commercial use,” said Pai.

The FCC says that it will take additional steps in 2020 further its position in 5G leadership stating with two mid-band auctions, bidding in the 3.5GHz auction starts on June 25 and bidding in the 3.7GHz auction (C-band) on December 8.

“To put that in perspective, that is more spectrum than is currently used for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers in the United States combined. Auction 103 was a tremendous success, and we look forward to building on this positive result with the 3.5 GHz auction, which is scheduled to begin on June 25, and the C-band auction, which is scheduled to begin on December 8.”

Winners of the auction include:

  • ATI Sub LLC, a subsidiary of Sprint Corporation, which was awarded 127 licences for approximately $113 million.

  • Docomo Pacific, a subsidiary of NTT Docomo, which was awarded 28 licences for approximately $37 thousand.

  • FiberTower Spectrum Holdings, a subsidiary of AT&T, which was awarded 3,267 licences for approximately $2.3 billion but given its incentive for relinquishing 39GHz licences it only had a net payment of $1.1 billion.

  • Straight Path Spectrum, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications, won 4,940 licences for approximately $3.4 billion but given its incentive for relinquishing 39GHz licences it only had a net payment of $1.6 billion.

  • T-Mobile License LLC won 2,384 licences for approximately $900 million 2,384 but given its incentive for relinquishing 39GHz licences it only had a net payment of $800 million.

  • Window Wireless LLC, a subsidiary of Dish Network, won 2,651 licences for close to £200 million

  • Windstream Services, a subsidiary of Windstream Holdings, was awarded 32 licences for just over $13 million.

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