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FCC formally grants 600MHz licences; T-Mobile to start testing this summer

16 Jun 2017

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed that the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has formally granted the 600MHz spectrum licences sold in its recently concluded 600MHz Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction (‘Auction 1002’). The bidding process raised (in net bids) a total of USD19.318 billion, with 50 bidders placing winning bids for a total of 2,776 licences.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, T-Mobile US comfortably dominated the Auction 1002 bidding process. The Deutsche Telekom (DT)-backed firm agreed to pay USD7.993 billion for a total of 1,525 regional licences, edging out satellite TV operator – and long-time wireless market aspirant DISH Network (bidding as Wireless) – which bid a total of USD6.211 billion for 486 licences. Other notable bidders include: cable giant Comcast (bidding as CC Wireless Investment), which agreed to pay USD1.725 billion for 73 licences; AT&T Mobility (USD910.2 million, 23 licences); and US Cellular (USD328.7 million, 188 licences). Less is known about the intentions of Channel 51 (USD858.7 million, eight licences) and Bluewater Wireless (USD568.3 million, 66 licences), although the latter previously bid in the FCC’s 700MHz auction, in association with venture capital firm Northwood Ventures.

Following the FCC’s 14 June handover announcement, lead bidder T-Mobile US has wasted no time in setting out its stall. A media announcement from the mobile giant read: ‘With the spectrum transfer complete, the real fun begins. Despite the cries from sceptics, T-Mobile has already kicked off deployment activities and will see the first sites ready for testing this summer! This timeline – well ahead of expectations – sets the stage for commercial operations later this year. That’s when new 600MHz smartphones from leading smartphone manufacturers are anticipated to arrive. T-Mobile has been working closely with the FCC and broadcasters and expects more than one million square miles of 600MHz spectrum to be clear and ready for deployment by year-end.’

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