T-Mobile leads bidding in FCC’s 600 MHz incentive auction
T-Mobile, Dish Network and Comcast were the leading winners in the incentive spectrum auction that generated $19.8 billion in gross bids for 70 MHz of licensed 600 MHz airwaves, FCC officials announced today.
T-Mobile led all participants by bidding almost $8 billion to win spectrum rights to 1,525 licenses in 414 partial economic areas, while Dish Network agreed to spend $6.2 billion and Comcast bid $1.72 billion in the 58-round fourth phase of the forward auction, according to auction results released by the FCC. While T-Mobile was heavy participant in the auction, other nationwide carriers did not bid aggressively; in fact, Verizon did not win a license and Sprint did not participate.
After gaining access to 20 MHz of nationwide 700 MHz spectrum via the FirstNet procurement, AT&T bid $910.2 million for 23 of the 5×5 MHz geographic licenses, including three in Dallas, two in St. Louis and two in Columbus, Ohio.
Spectrum for auction—70 MHz of licensed and 14 MHz of unlicensed frequencies—was made available through an unprecedented bidding procedure that allowed TV stations to assign a value to their 600 MHz spectrum.
In the reverse-auction portion of bidding, broadcasters set a price for which the would agree to clear the airwaves by either choosing to go off the air entirely or relocate to channels lower in the spectrum band—usually in a shared-channel arrangement with an existing station. Only 12 stations nationwide indicated that they plan to stop over-the-air broadcasts, according to FCC officials.
Overall, 175 broadcasters will receive a total of $10.05 billion from the auction, and their spectrum-relocation costs are slated to be covered by the auction proceeds, with the first stations scheduled to move on Nov. 30, 2018. The auction generated $7.3 billion that will be allocated to deficit reduction, according to the FCC.
“The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a prepared statement. “Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace.”