5G spectrum auction maps, winners and big spenders: Auction 110 of 3.45-3.55GHz5G spectrum auction maps, winners and big spenders: Auction 110 of 3.45-3.55GHz
AT&T, Dish Network and T-Mobile were among the big winners of the FCC's Andromeda midband spectrum auction for 5G. Here are the details of what they paid for and what they're getting.
January 19, 2022
The results of the FCC's latest auction of midband spectrum are in, and now it's time to parse the data.
First, it's clear that AT&T was the big winner in the auction. The operator spent $9 billion and walked away with 40MHz of spectrum across the country – the maximum allowable amount of spectrum for any one bidder, according to the FCC's rules for the auction.
Who spent what
The chart below shows some of the prominent winners in the FCC's auction of 100MHz of spectrum between 3.45GHz and 3.55GHz, dubbed Auction 110. (However, Light Reading has been calling this the "Andromeda auction" because it sounds cool.)
As noted by the analysts at Raymond James, Three Forty-Five is backed by Columbia Capital, NewLevel is backed by Grain Management and Cherry Wireless is backed by Moise Advisory. The chart shows the amount of money each winner spent, as well as the percent of spectrum they obtained, the number of licenses they won, and their per MHz-POP spending.
Figure 1: Andromeda auction winners (Auction 110 of 3.45GHz-3.55GHz) The per MHz-POP calculation is applied to most spectrum transactions and reflects the number of people covered compared with the amount of spectrum available, though it can be affected by a wide variety of factors. Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Raymond James)
Big carrier holdings
Now, with its new spectrum holdings, AT&T owns roughly the same amount of spectrum below 6GHz as Verizon does. Following the $53 billion Verizon spent last year in the FCC's C-band spectrum auction, the company did not spend any money in the FCC's newest midband spectrum auction.
The chart below shows the spectrum holdings of each of the industry's major operators as well as their total number of subscribers (at the top) and their total number of cell towers (at the bottom). The info is based on the companies' average spectrum holdings in the top 100 markets in the US. Comcast, Cox, Altice and Charter are the primary cable companies that own spectrum.
Figure 2: Sub-6GHz spectrum holdings following Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Raymond James)
Millimeter wave spectrum holdings Verizon still remains in the lead in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum ownership. Those spectrum bands are generally above 20GHz. Figure 3: Estimated mmWave spectrum holdings This chart shows the mmWave spectrum holdings of Verizon and other carriers. Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Raymond James) The carrier maps But what exactly did all of the big Andromeda auction winners acquire? Sasha Javid, chief operating officer at BitPath, manages a website that has been tracking the Andromeda auction since its start. His maps show exactly which geographic licenses each operator purchased and how many of those licenses it acquired. In the seven maps pictured below, "demand" roughly equates to the amount of spectrum the company won. For example, a "demand" value of 1 would equate to 10MHz of spectrum, while a "demand" value of 4 would equate to the maximum of 40MHz. Figure 4: AT&T winnings in Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Sasha Javid) Figure 5: Dish winnings in Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Sasha Javid) Figure 6: T-Mobile winnings in Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Sasha Javid) Figure 7: Columbia Capital (Three Forty-Five) winnings in Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Sasha Javid) Figure 8: UScellular winnings in Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Sasha Javid) Figure 9: Grain Management (NewLevel) winnings in Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Sasha Javid) Figure 10: Moise Advisory (Cherry Wireless) winnings in Auction 110 Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Sasha Javid) Next Page: Delayed gratification The broad spectrum landscape in the US will change dramatically between now and the end of 2023. That's because the C-band spectrum licenses that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile purchased last year won't be completely ready for 5G operations for the next two years or so. At issue are existing, incumbent satellite operations in the C-band. Those operations need to be moved to another spectrum band before C-band auction winners can launch commercial 5G services in their new spectrum licenses. The incumbent satellite operators managed to release around 100MHz of the C-band for 5G in December 2021, but won't release the remaining 180MHz until 2023. Verizon owns around 60MHz of that newly freed 100MHz, while AT&T owns the remaining 40MHz. (It's worth noting that the airline industry has managed to halt the deployment of 5G in C-band spectrum around some US airports for the foreseeable future.) Thus, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile won't be able to deploy their full C-band holdings until 2023. But AT&T and T-Mobile will be able to deploy their 3.45-3.55GHz holdings starting sometime this year. Thus, here's how things will look between now and 2023. Figure 11: Midband spectrum holdings that can be deployed starting in 2022 This chart shows the spectrum holdings of T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Dish that can be deployed this year.
(Source: New Street Research) Figure 12: Midband spectrum holdings that can be deployed after 2023 This chart shows the spectrum holdings of T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Dish that can be deployed after 2023.
(Source: New Street Research) The FCC's auction of licenses between 3.45GHz and 3.55GHz raised a total of $22.4 billion in winning bids in an auction that ended earlier this year. The agency's auction quiet period ends later this month, after which winning bidders will be allowed to discuss their plans for their new spectrum licenses. The FCC's Andromeda auction is the agency's third-biggest spectrum auction ever. Only the $45 billion AWS-3 auction in 2015 and the $81 billion C-band auction last year generated more in winning bids.
What to expect from the upcoming 3.45GHz auction for 5G Andromeda bidders avoid auction failure – but now the real work begins AT&T, Dish win big in Andromeda auction, Verizon gets nothing — Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano Previous Page: Carrier spending and maps
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