FCC’s Auction 103 gets underway; third US mmWave sale of 2019

11 Dec 2019

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed that its latest sale of 5G-suitable millimetre wave (mmWave) frequencies got underway yesterday (10 December). The process comprises spectrum in the upper 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz bands. As per FCC documentation, qualified bidders include T-Mobile US, US Cellular and Windstream. In addition, it is understood that mobile giants AT&T and Verizon are both bidding under different names: AT&T appears to be using the FiberTower Spectrum Holdings unit it acquired in February 2018, while Verizon is bidding through Straight Path (also acquired in February 2018). The US territories are also represented, meanwhile, with IT&E (bidding under its previous name PTI Pacifica) and DOCOMO Pacific also registered to take part. Both telcos serve Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

TeleGeography notes that Auction 103 represents the third sale of mmWave spectrum in 2019, following Auction 101 (28GHz) and Auction 102 (24GHz). Auction 101 concluded in January this year, generating a total of USD702.6 million, and was dominated by Verizon, which spent USD505.7 million on 1,066 licences, followed by US Cellular (USD129.4 million for 408 licences) and T-Mobile US (USD39.3 million for 865 licences). In contrast, AT&T was the big winner in Auction 102, paying USD982.5 million for 831 of the 2,909 available licences. Next in line was T-Mobile US (USD803.2 million, 1,346 licences), followed by US Cellular (USD126.6 million, 282 licences).