The Incentive Auction, where the FCC is auctioning off 600MHz spectrum to many carriers and even cable companies, is expected to conclude late next month. And after it concludes, analysts are expecting to see some "unprecedented spectrum deals". This is due to the fact that spectrum is going to be even more valued than it was before the auction, which it was already like gold to wireless carriers. With this being the last significant spectrum auction for the next decade, there will be plenty of dealmaking going on. It's also important to note that during the auction, bidders are unable to speak with each other, which is why we haven't seen any deals take place so far.
There are quite a few companies that have some pretty large spectrum portfolios at their fingertips, like Sprint thanks to their Nextel merger and purchase of Clearwire, and they'll likely be highly targeted by smaller carriers and other providers looking to get into the space – like Comcast, Charger and DISH Network. MoffettNathanson analysts wrote in a research note sent to their investors yesterday that "the Prom Queen of all spectrum takeout candidates is widely regarded to be DISH Network and its trove of AWS spectrum." But they also mentioned that other candidates include Globalstar, Ligado, Straight Path and Sprint.
It's no secret that carriers are looking to gain more spectrum, and do more with the spectrum they have as they are needing to increase their capacity quite quickly. With more and more devices being connected to the Internet, and devices using more and more of that Internet and its bandwidth, carriers are resorting to combining multiple bands together (in carrier aggregation) to help provide better capacity but also better speed. Seeing as the lower-band spectrum is better for coverage as it can cover a wider area, higher-band spectrum has more capacity. And when you aggregate these two together, it becomes a pretty great experience for customers. Come late-April we'll likely start to see some rather blockbuster spectrum deals, particularly from the carriers that are looking at working on 5G or have already began to work on it, and it likely won't stop anytime soon.