The highly anticipated mid-band 3.5 GHz Priority Access Licences (PALs) FCC spectrum auction was a rounding success. Raising over $4.5 billion from bidding, DISH contributed in a major way by securing the most licenses out of any bidding party. Paying $912.9 million, DISH was able to purchase 5,492 PALs after 76 bidding rounds under the name of Wetterhorn Wireless.
This adds to DISH’s already impressive collection of spectrum which it has obtained for years leading up to its entry into the wireless world earlier this year after purchasing Boost Mobile from Sprint. The leader in satellite television is expected to make an impact on the wireless world, with a particular focus on 5G. Quietly obtaining and holding the rights to spectrum for years, by adding these licenses, many in small, county-sized segments, the company is once again showing the competition that it is here to stay.
Speaking of the competition, DISH wasn’t the only one to make a splash at this summer’s auction. Many cable companies including Charter, Comcast, and Cox all contributed more than $200 million a piece with Charter and Comcast reaching over $400 million per provider. Another notable bidder was wireless rival Verizon who paid almost $1.9 billion for spectrum in the auction. A whopping amount that earned the wireless carrier 557 PALs for more than 150 counties. Even T-Mobile participated by bidding more than $5.5 million for eight PALs. The company recently acquired plenty of mid-band spectrum due to its merger with Sprint and is not in the same position of need as other companies may be. One company that was notably missing was AT&T. For an auction raising more than $4.5 billion it is surprising to see that one of America’s largest telecommunication companies did not participate.
This is particularly true because of the growing demand and need for mid-band spectrum. The 3.5 GHz spectrum helps providers send a faster signal in many of its markets that can still travel farther than high-band (mmWave) signals. Another FCC auction is coming in December for C-band spectrum and the U.S. government has announced it is going to free up even more mid-band spectrum for commercial use.
Another trend that is worth monitoring is the already noted participation levels of cable companies. There was already interest from a variety of other industries connected to a variety of wireless goals including everything from fixed wireless to the Internet of Things (IoT), but cable companies may have other ideas. The managing director of Mobile Ecosystem, Mark Lowenstein, spoke on the cable industry’s desire to stay mobile longer saying, “They also want to wean themselves off the MVNO relationship with Verizon, where they pay unfavorable rates for data. Could be quite powerful in conjunction with Wi-Fi 6 and the significant added Wi-Fi capacity that the FCC recently authorized for Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz band.” Regardless of how companies are expecting to use their licenses, they will need to have their funds ready to go. Down payments are due later this month on the 17th with final payments due on the 1st of October.
Source: Fierce Wireless