AT&T talks up 39GHz spectrum position

1 Apr 2020

US telecoms giant AT&T Communications has confirmed that it now holds more than 1,040MHz of nationwide millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum, after participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) latest frequency sale.

Prior to Auction 103, AT&T acquired 379MHz of 39GHz spectrum when it purchased FiberTower for USD207 million in early 2018. All 39GHz licences held by AT&T prior to the auction were exchanged for vouchers. The company subsequently spent around USD2.4 billion in the auction – or USD1.2 billion net of its vouchers. The value of the FCC-issued vouchers was determined by the auction price for the Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) in which the pre-auction licences were held. The licences AT&T won cover 411 PEAs and the voucher exchange process allowed AT&T to secure a ‘large, contiguous block of spectrum’.

Indeed, AT&T improved its 39GHz spectrum position to 786MHz, an increase of 102%. When added to the mmWave spectrum AT&T already holds in the 24GHz band, AT&T’s average spectrum depth in the mmWave range increased to more than 1,040MHz nationwide.

TeleGeography notes that 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 USD7.6 billion.