AT&T begins testing Ericsson, Nokia kit ahead of Andromeda auction
AT&T is asking the FCC for permission to test operations across dozens of sites around the country in advance of the FCC's upcoming midband spectrum auction.
Specifically, AT&T is seeking permission to test transmissions in the 3.45-3.55GHz band – dubbed the Andromeda band by the Light Reading editorial team – with Nokia and Ericsson equipment in locations including San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; St. Louis, Missouri; New York City; San Jose, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Bedminister, New Jersey (the location of Verizon's headquarters).
AT&T said it would test a number of network deployment configurations including those using monopoles, rooftop sites, utility poles and equipment on the sides of buildings.
The company provided no other details in its FCC filing for the tests.
However, the filing helps to underscore AT&T's interest in the spectrum auction that's scheduled to start in October. AT&T is widely expected to dominate the Andromeda auction, though it's unclear how much money AT&T might dole out during the event.
Some analysts believe the auction will raise a total of just $15 billion in winning bids, while others think that could go as high as $37 billion.
Importantly, the FCC last week released a final list of bidders for the Andromeda auction.
The agency last month released a list of initial Andromeda auction applications, but last week it released the final list of bidders.
The financial analysts with Raymond James counted just 33 bidders that will compete in the event, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Dish Network and UScellular.
Indeed, the list of final bidders is noteworthy only in the absence of several major names including Frontier Communications, ATN International, Shentel, Comcast, Cox and Charter Communications.
"The lack of cable bidders was especially noteworthy, as we thought they might have a larger presence in this auction after spending $1.2 billion in the CBRS auction," noted the Raymond James analysts.
The analysts speculated that the FCC might have a difficult time raising the $14.8 billion necessary to meet its reserve price for the auction. That money is earmarked for funding the migration of incumbent federal users out of the band.
The Raymond James analysts noted that there are a number of factors at play that could keep Andromeda auction bids low.
For example, AT&T and Verizon "are currently somewhat stretched" given their massive bids in the recent C-band spectrum auction.
Further, T-Mobile may not bid heavily given its interest in the upcoming 2.5GHz spectrum auction, while Dish "has historically been price conscious regarding spectrum."
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