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The FCC Has Revealed the results of the AWS-3 Spectrum Auction, No Surprises Here

January 30, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

A couple of days ago, we had heard that the spectrum auction for the AWS-3 Spectrum had ended, and had raised over $40 billion. Which was more than double what the spectrum auction in 2008 had garnered. Today, the FCC had released the details of the winning bidders. And to no surprise the top two were AT&T and Verizon, followed by Dish and T-Mobile. You can see their amounts down below.

1. AT&T (bidding under the name AT&T Wireless Services 3 LLC) = $18,189,285,000
2. Verizon (bidding under the name Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless) = $10,430,017,000
3. Dish (bidding under the name Northstar Wireless, LLC and SNR Wireless LicenseCo, LLC)  = $9,995,567,775 ($13,327,423,700 in gross bids plus a 25 percent discount for being designated entities)
4. T-Mobile (bidding under the name T-Mobile License LLC) = $1,774,023,000

So AT&T spent over $18 billion on spectrum in this auction, almost double what Verizon spent. T-Mobile was way down at the bottom of the list, mainly due to the fact that they aren’t as big so don’t have as much money to spend on spectrum as AT&T and Verizon do. But Dish did sneak in there. Dish has a ton of spectrum, and no one knows what they are planning on doing with it yet. We had heard rumors that they might be selling it to Verizon, or at least licensing it. But that rumor surfaced about 6 months ago, so who knows.

This auction includes the paired spectrum from the G Block (1755-1760/2155-2160MHz), H Block (1760-1765/2160-2165MHz), I Block (1765-1770/2165-2170MHz) and the J Block (1770-1780/2170-2180MHz). The G Block is licensed in 734 cellular market area geographies and the other paired spectrum blocks are licensed in 176 geographically larger Economic areas. There was a total of 1,614 licenses up for auction and the FCC kept just 3 of them.

So there’s really no surprises with this auction. But interesting to see just how much more AT&T spent compared to the other winners. I think T-Mobile held back because they are more interested in the 600MHz spectrum that’s due to be auctioned off next year. Which would be a bigger deal for them anyways.