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Verizon is the big winner in the FCC’s C-band auction, followed by AT&T and T-Mobile.
Twenty-one bidders placed bids totaling just over $81 billion for 5,684 licenses. The bulk of that is from Verizon (bidding as Cellco Partnership), which will pay $45.5 billion for 3,511 licenses. AT&T purchased 1,621 licenses for $23.4 billion; T-Mobile will pay $9.3 billion for 142 licenses.
As PCMag’s Sascha Segan explains, 5G needs broad, dedicated channels, ideally 50MHz or wider, and to cover entire cities, it needs to be on a frequency below about 6GHz. AT&T and Verizon aren’t currently using any airwaves that fit these bills, but C-band fixes that.
“It is essential to America’s economic recovery that we deliver on the promise of next-generation wireless services for everyone, everywhere,” says FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This auction reflects a shift in our nation’s approach to 5G toward mid-band spectrum that can support fast, reliable, and ubiquitous service that is competitive with our global peers. Now we have to work fast to put this spectrum to use in service of the American people.”
Other bidders include Dish (bidding as Little Bear Wireless), which secured one license for $2.5 million. US Cellular will also pay $1.28 billion for 254 licenses.
Winners have an initial down payment due by March 10; final payments are due on March 24.
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