FCC announces Auction 103 winners; Verizon, AT&T dominate bidding

13 Mar 2020

Following the conclusion of its ‘Auction 103’ millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum sale earlier this month, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now revealed the identities of the winning bidders, with Verizon and AT&T dominating proceedings. The mobile giants both bid under different names: Verizon bid through the Straight Path Spectrum unit it acquired in February 2018, offering USD3.417 billion for a total of 4,940 licences, while AT&T bid via FiberTower Spectrum Holdings (also acquired in February 2018), offering USD2.379 billion for 3,267 concessions.

Next in line was T-Mobile US (bidding as ‘T-Mobile License’), which committed to pay USD931.609 million for 2,384 spectrum permits, followed by US Cellular (USD146.342 million, 237 licences) and bankruptcy-stricken Windstream (USD13.750 million, 32 licences). The remainder of the 14,142 licences sold went to roughly 30 small-scale regional providers. One other bidder of note was DOCOMO Pacific, which serves Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands; it paid USD37,200 for 28 licences.

Auction 103, which comprised spectrum in the upper 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz bands, got underway on 10 December 2019 and concluded on 5 March 2020. The auction generated gross proceeds of USD7.57 billion. The FCC has stated that final payments are due on 9 April.