The nation’s largest wireless carriers dominated the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent 5G spectrum auction, raking in more than $81 billion in revenue. On Wednesday, the FCC released the names and winning bids of the auction’s top five bidders.
Verizon spent the most money on the auction, bidding $45 billion for 3,511 spectrum licenses under the name Cellco Partnership. With a bid of $23 billion for 1,621 licenses, AT&T came in second. T-Mobile came in third with a $9 billion bid for 142 licenses.
Satellite providers have used the so-called C-band spectrum, which includes 500MHz of spectrum between 3.7 and 4.2GHz, to deliver video programming to cable providers. In December, the FCC began auctioning off 280MHz of the spectrum block, which ended on January 15. About 200MHz of this band’s spectrum will be used for TV programming in the future.
The auction of the midband spectrum was expected to generate a lot of interest, according to wireless experts. According to some estimates, the valuable spectrum could be worth as much as $60 billion. However, the final total exceeded all expectations, raising more than $81 billion for the US Treasury.
The high price tag and final list of winners demonstrate how important midband spectrum is to the nation’s largest wireless providers as they build out their 5G networks.
5G refers to the next generation of wireless technology, which is expected to boost network speeds and improve network responsiveness. The technology could pave the way for applications such as self-driving cars, as well as new AR and VR experiences on smartphones.
Midband spectrum, like the C-band, is important for 5G deployments because it provides both geographic coverage and the ability to transmit large amounts of data. This combination is particularly appealing to wireless behemoths looking to expand their spectrum holdings.
« It is essential to America’s economic recovery that we deliver on the promise of next generation wireless services for everyone, everywhere, » FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. « This auction reflects a shift in our nation’s approach to 5G toward midband spectrum that can support fast, reliable, and ubiquitous service that is competitive with our global peers. »