Verizon, AT&T Dominate Latest US 5G Auction


Verizon and AT&T emerged the winners in a key auction of 5G spectrum, with the pair committing to spend close to US$3 billion in total to secure thousands of new licences covering mmWave bands.

Bidding in the auction of spectrum in the 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz bands officially closed 5 March, with winners revealed today (12 March).

The sale tallied US$7.558 billion, nearly tripling the combined total raised by two prior mmWave auctions, which generated bids of US$2 billion for 24GHz spectrum and US$700 million for 28GHz.


Officials said 28 participants claimed a total of 14,142 licences in the latest auction. All told, 3,400MHz of spectrum was on offer, the largest amount ever sold at one time in the nation’s history.

Verizon and AT&T moved decisively to bolster their already substantial mmWave holdings, with the former shelling out US$1.624 billion for 4,940 licences. AT&T, bidding through its FiberTower Spectrum Holdings subsidiary, was close behind, spending $1.185 billion on 3,267 licences.

The operators similarly led in the earlier mmWave spectrum auctions, with AT&T emerging the winner in the sale of 24GHz licences and Verizon in the 28GHz proceeding.

T-Mobile US sought to close the gap in the latest proceeding, spending $872.7 million on 2,384 licences to complement some 1,346 licences it won in the 24GHz auction.

Dish Network, which is poised to make its entrance in the US wireless market once a proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is finalised, snagged 2,651 licences for US$202.5 million through subsidiary Window Wireless.

US Cellular, the nation’s fifth-largest operator, and Sprint (bidding as ATI Sub) also took part, with the former grabbing 237 licences for US$146.3 million and the latter taking 127 licences for US$113.9 million.

The auction will allow operators to press ahead with targeted 5G deployments using mmWave spectrum in more locations while they wait for an auction of mid-band airwaves which will allow them to offer broader coverage.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement called the auction a “tremendous success,” adding “we look forward to building on this positive result” in upcoming mid-band spectrum sales scheduled for June and December.- -

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