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Verizon Spends $45.5 Billion in FCC’s C-Band Auction

By | February 24, 2021

Photo: Via Satellite

Verizon Wireless and AT&T were the top bidders in the FCC‘s C-band auction, which grossed more than $81 billion. The FCC on Wednesday announced the top winning bidders, 21 bidders won all of the available 5,684 licenses.

Verizon, bidding as Cellco Partnership, had total gross winning bids of $45.5 billion, and AT&T Spectrum Frontiers LLC had $23.4 billion. These were followed by T-Mobile with $9.3 billion, United States Cellular Corporation with $1.3 billion, and a bidder listed as NewLevel II, L.P., also with $1.3 billion.

Verizon also won the largest number of licenses, at 3,511 licenses. Followed by AT&T with 1,621; United States Cellular with 254; T-Mobile with 142; and Canopy Spectrum with 84.

According to Light Reading, Canopy Spectrum is a venture between Jennifer Fritzsche, a former Wells Fargo analyst, and Edward Moise Jr., a longtime spectrum investor.

Dish Network, reported to be bidding under Little Bear Wireless, won one bid for $2.5 million. Bidder C&C Wireless Holding Company, which was reported to be a joint venture between Comcast and Charter Communications, did not come away with any bids.

The C-band auction smashed the previous FCC auction record of $44.9 billion. This spectrum in the 3.7–3.98 GHz band is considered prime spectrum for 5G services because of its geographic coverage and capacity.

“It is essential to America’s economic recovery that we deliver on the promise of next-generation wireless services for everyone, everywhere,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.  “This auction reflects a shift in our nation’s approach to 5G toward mid-band spectrum that can support fast, reliable, and ubiquitous service that is competitive with our global peers. Now we have to work fast to put this spectrum to use in service of the American people.”

Satellite operators IntelsatSESTelesatEutelsat, and Star One are working to clear the portion of the C-band that is being auctioned off. The operators have agreed to clear the spectrum in exchange for relocation costs and incentive payments for clearing the spectrum on an accelerated timeline. The FCC decided on $9.7 billion of accelerated relocation payments, most of which will go to Intelsat ($4.87 billion) and SES ($3.97 billion). The operators must first clear 120 megahertz of spectrum in 46 partial economic areas by Dec. 5, 2021. In a second phase, they must clear the lower 120 megahertz in the remaining areas, plus an additional 180 megahertz nationwide, by Dec. 5, 2023.