5G and Beyond

Verizon, Dish, Charter, Comcast: Here are the 20 biggest CBRS auction winners

As expected, Verizon spent the most money in the FCC's recently concluded 3.5GHz midband spectrum auction.

The action is no surprise: Light Reading reported more than a year ago that Verizon has been deploying antennas into its network that can support transmissions in the 3.5GHz CBRS band to add additional capacity to its 4G and 5G networks.

Other big winners in the auction include Dish Network, Comcast, Charter Communications and Cox. These results also don't come as a surprise: Light Reading reported almost a year ago that Charter was preparing to build a wireless network, as well as interest from Dish and Comcast in spectrum. Light Reading also reported earlier this year that Cox is preparing to re-enter the mobile industry.

The cable companies are widely expected to build wireless networks in their cable footprints using CBRS spectrum to move their mobile customers' traffic onto their own wireless networks, thus reducing the amount of money they pay to their MVNO partners like Verizon.

Due to FCC rules, auction winners cannot yet discuss their plans for the spectrum.

Meantime, Dish is moving forward with its plan to build a nationwide 5G network.

Other major bidders in the FCC's CBRS spectrum auction include smaller cable companies like Cable One, Shentel and Mediacom, as well as telecom operators like Windstream and VTX1 Companies. Several smaller fixed and mobile wireless network operators including Viaero, Nextlink Internet, Watch Communications and U.S. Cellular also purchased spectrum. These companies likely will use CBRS spectrum to offer mobile services or to improve their existing mobile networks, or to offer fixed wireless Internet services.

A number of unexpected bidders emerged among the more than 200 spectrum winners in the auction. For example, several utility providers, including Sempra Energy, Southern California Edison and Alabama Power purchased spectrum; such companies have expressed interest in spectrum for private wireless networks for utility-monitoring services. And JBG SMITH is a major real estate company that could use CBRS spectrum for indoor wireless offerings.

Table 1: The top 20 spenders in the FCC's CBRS spectrum auction

Company Bidding Entity Number of Licenses Won Net Payment
1 Verizon Verizon Wireless Network Procurement 557 $1,893,791,991
2 Dish Network Wetterhorn Wireless 5,492 $912,939,410
3 Charter Spectrum Wireless Holdings 210 $464,251,209
4 Comcast XF Wireless Investment 830 $458,725,900
5 Cox Cox Communications 470 $212,805,412
6 Southern California Edison Southern California Edison Company 20 $118,951,433
7 Windstream Windstream Services 1,014 $38,534,863
8 Mediacom Mediacom 576 $29,478,887
9 Nextlink Internet AMG Technology Investment Group 1,072 $28,489,750
10 JBG SMITH SEAD 7 $25,274,477
11 Sempra Energy San Diego Gas and Electric Company 3 $21,273,340
12 ATN International SAL Spectrum 1,569 $20,396,530
13 Claro Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Telephone Company 231 $18,887,528
14 Alabama Power Alabama Power Company 271 $18,878,280
15 Shentel Shenandoah Cable Television 262 $16,118,381
16 VTX1 Companies VTX Communications 112 $15,373,263
17 Viaero NE Colorado Cellular 558 $15,087,268
18 U.S. Cellular United States Cellular Corporation 243 $13,538,232
19 Watch Communications W.A.T.C.H. TV Company 517 $10,942,047
20 Cable One Cable One 547 $10,544,441

Source: The FCC

— Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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