US telcos confirm 5G mmWave spectrum strategies

20 Jun 2019

Following the recent conclusion of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum auctions, Auction 101 (28GHz) and Auction 102 (24GHz), a number of participating bidders have confirmed their acquisitions and explained how the spectrum will be put to use.

Paying USD982.5 million in Auction 102, AT&T says it was the winning bidder for spectrum licences covering more than 98% of the US population. The company won spectrum in 383 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) for a nationwide average of 254MHz. All of the licences won were in the upper 500MHz portion of the 24GHz band, which it says will give it stronger nationwide coverage and additional spectrum depth and capacity in large markets where demand is often greatest. In the country’s top ten markets, AT&T won nearly 286MHz on average, including 300MHz in eight of those markets. AT&T will use the spectrum to bolster its mobile 5G strategy and plans to reach parts of 29 cities by the end of 2019.

US Cellular, meanwhile, purchased licences covering 98% of its subscribers for a total of USD256.0 million. In Auction 101, the company spent USD129.4 million on 408 licences covering 60% of its subscriber base with at least 425MHz of mmWave spectrum. In Auction 102, the company spent USD126.6 million, acquiring 282 licences covering 93% of its subscribers. Kenneth R. Meyers, US Cellular president and CEO, explained: ‘Our 5G network strategy envisions the use of a variety of spectrum bands over time. Our initial 5G deployment will be on our 600MHz spectrum to provide enhanced broadband speed and capacity over our entire footprint with the expectation that we will be able to augment it with mid- and high-band spectrum over time as the technology and use cases continue to evolve.’

Finally, Windstream agreed to pay a total of USD26.6 million for blocks of spectrum in 14 states covering more than five million households, including approximately two million households in locations where it is the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC). Jeff Small, president of Windstream’s Kinetic business segment, commented: ‘Windstream is committed to bringing best-in-class internet to rural communities, many in thinly populated areas, across our Kinetic footprint. We’re using a variety of methods to accomplish that goal, including software enhancements, fibre expansion, fixed wireless and now 5G wireless technology.’