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AWS 3 Spectrum Auction Is The Largest In History After 341 Rounds Of Bidding

January 29, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

After months of bidding in the AWS 3 spectrum auction, the bidding finally comes to an end as the auction is now officially over. It’s unclear exactly how much each of the major U.S. carriers(except for Sprint of course since they weren’t in the auction to begin with)spent on spectrum, and analysts are divided on how much they think Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T as well as DISH put forth to snag the airwaves that were up for bid. The auction included bids for frequency bands that included 1755-1780 MHz for uplink and 2155-2180 MHz for downlink, which are split up into four different categories of I block, G block, H block, and J block.

The length of the auction was about 341 rounds which spanned a little over two months as the auction began back on November 13th of 2014 and ended today. The FCC is also reporting that this is the biggest spectrum auction in history, with paired spectrum selling at a surprising average of about $2.71 per MHz-POP which is much higher than what analysts were expecting. Out of all the spectrum that was bid on in the auction, the 10 x 10 J block spectrum was the most sought after as it pertained to major metropolitan areas like New York City, LA, and Chicago. Chicago gained the lowest bid which was about $2.9 billion for the total amount of spectrum up for auction for that particular area, with New York City area spectrum reaching a total of $6.2 billion in bids.

For now we’re left with merely guessing or wondering where the money came from for each portion of spectrum that was picked up as the FCC has chosen to keep the winning bidders in the entirety of the auction anonymous. We should learn about which companies picked up which spectrum though soon enough as the FCC could end up releasing the data in anywhere from one to two weeks from now. According to the analysts, AT&T is estimated to have spent the most throughout the auction with an amount anywhere between $20-22 billion, which may include all of the J block spectrum and a small portion of the G block spectrum. The same analysts believe Verizon may have spent the second largest amount totaling $15-$16 billion to acquire the spectrum in the H block and I block. That leaves T-Mobile who the analysts believe spent a total of $3 billion in the auction to acquire a small portion of the G block spectrum which wasn’t picked up by AT&T.