About Half of Fifty 600 MHz Auction Winners Are Rural Companies

Posted April 15, 2017

Although Verizon participated in the auction under the name "Cellco Partnership", it did not win any bids. With this purchase, T-Mobile now has significantly more low-band spectrum per customer than any other major provider and almost triple the low-band spectrum per customer than Verizon. The major US carriers are racing to buy up critical spectrum that will be necessary for the realization of 5G's potential, which could include support for speeds up to 1Gbps and support for the ever-expanding Internet of Things.

While the auction was created to incentivize Comcast and other owners of low-band spectrum to free it up for mobile carriers to use, it could take a while before smartphone owners see any improvement in their data speeds.

Low-band spectrum is particularly important for covering long distances and penetrating obstacles such as building walls, which have always been problems for T-Mobile's network.

Sometimes it seems that T-Mobile's put-on brand bravado, its showy marketing and breathless self-promotion, is all done to make up for the fact that its core product - the network - is not very good.

Set in motion five years ago as part of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, the FCC auction was aimed at reallocating spectrum to better serve today's wireless communications demands.

There has been some criticism of the auction in terms of whether that structure contributed to what many broadcasters saw as a far smaller payout than anticipated, though FCC officials say they made no predictions of auction totals and the marketplace determined the price points.

T-Mobile now owns premium low-band spectrum.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint sit this one out, while Dish Networks and Comcast drop a combined $7.9 billion.

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"T-Mobile's network is already the fastest, most advanced in the country, and this will take it to a whole new level - and we'll do it fast", said Neville Ray, T-Mobile CTO.

"Little old T-Mobile walked away with more than any other company, 45% of all the spectrum auctioned", said T-Mobile's CEO, John Legere, in a video released on Thursday. Each band is available for each major region - so, for example, T-Mobile could buy Band A-C for use in Washington, but Verizon could buy the same chunk of spectrum to use in NYC.

Dish Network, which has amassed almost 80 MHz of spectrum but has spent years looking for a wireless partner.

T-Mobile's new coverage map with 600MHz. The 50 buyers who have committed the $19.8 billion, and will get access to 70 MHz, while the other 14 MHz will go to wireless microphones and unlicensed use.

Comcast was the third biggest spender in the auction, though it came in at a distant third.

The full list of winning auction bidders is here.

US Cellular won 188 licenses in 92 areas for $328.7 million. "We think the rationale was to build a complete spectrum portfolio, with significant holdings in both mid and low frequency bands".