Record-setting result for coveted mid-band spectrum comes as operators around the US prepare to shore up capacity for their 5G network deployments.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

January 15, 2021

2 Min Read
C-band bidding wraps at $80.91B

The clock phase of the FCC's C-band auction for coveted mid-band spectrum for 5G wrapped up Friday with gross proceeds of $80.91 billion, handily beating the $44.89 billion driven by the 2004 auction for AWS-3 spectrum.

The C-band auction, known as Auction 107, centers on licenses for 280MHz of spectrum in the 3.7GHz-3.98GHz band. The FCC billed it as the highest-grossing spectrum auction ever held in the US.

"Bidders have won all of the 5,684 spectrum blocks that were up for bid. And gross proceeds have exceeded $80.9 billion, shattering the prior FCC auction record of $44.9 billion," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

Fifty-seven bidders pursued the licenses in the C-band auction, but the identities of the winners won't be known right away. Winning bidders will now have a chance to bid for frequency-specific licenses in the "assignment phase." The FCC said only that it expects to release a public notice "soon" that reveals details for the assignment phase

LightShed Partners analyst Walter Piecyk tweeted out some of the other numbers associated with the C-band auction:

Verizon is expected to come out as one of the big C-band winners. Other big names that registered to bid in the C-band auction, dubbed Auction 107, includes AT&T, T-Mobile, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Altice USA, Columbia Capital, Dish Network, Viasat and U.S. Cellular.

For those keeping an eye on the cable industry's mobile ambitions and their ongoing exploration of using licensed spectrum to help offset the costs of their largely MVNO-based mobile services, Comcast and Charter purportedly teamed up for the C-band auction under an entity called "C&C Wireless Holding Company." Comcast and Charter have already formed a joint operating platform partnership for mobile services.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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