FCC spectrum auction breaks all records

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) auction for new spectrum that has been running in the US for the past two months closed on January 29th and broke all records.

The FCC’s AWS-3 auction brought in $44.9 billion, as various existing operators scrambled to acquire fresh capacity.  Previous estimates hovered around the $10 billion mark, and that expectation was smashed in the first week of the auction.

The cash raised will fund a $7 billion bill for new public safety networks across the nation.

The success is prompting the FCC to re-think how much it might gain from an already planned extra auction to take place in 2017. One national wireless player, Sprint, did not participate in the AWS-3 auction and is seen as ‘keeping its powder dry’ until the 2017 auction.  2017 will see the FCC sell-off low frequency (former TV) spectrum which is ideal for penetrating buildings.

The winning bidders have not been announced but research analysts are suggesting that AT&T might have pipped Verizon as far as total bandwidth gained, with AT&T paying about $20-$22 billion for its slices of bandwidth, and Verizon paying $14-$16 billion.

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