Verizon and AT&T throw down almost $69bn in 5G auction

By Harry Menear
In a bid to catch up with T-Mobile in the battle for mid-band 5G spectrum space, Verizon and AT&T bid more than $68bn in the latest FCC auction...

The much anticipated Auction 108 - also known as the C-Band Auction - has finally come and gone. The bidding war between the US’ major telecom investors was fierce, with the total sum collected by the FCC in exchange for the 5,684 mid-band 5G spectrum licenses on offer exceeding $81bn. 

On the face of it, the results of the auction aren’t hugely surprising. Verizon and AT&T predictably went to the mat with the most to lose, given T-Mobile’s current dominance over the US’ 5G mid-band spectrum, which has allowed the operator to recently launch its stand-alone 5G network, increasing coverage across the US’ rural and urban areas. 

T-Mobile has comfortably led the US’ 5G race so far. Verizon has made some strong technological leaps in terms of enterprise 5G, private networks and high profile sporting events, but T-Mobile’s far bigger slice of the low and mid-band 5G spectrum have resulted in it storming ahead of the pack in terms of reliability and breadth of service.  

Now, AT&T and Verizon want to even the score, and are apparently willing to pay handsomely for the privilege. 

Of the $81bn committed by the auction’s five participants, just under $69bn was contributed by AT&T and Verizon. Again, not surprising. 

What was surprising though was by just how much Verizon outbid AT&T. The telecom operator (acting under the name Cellco Partnership) bought a staggering $45.5bn worth of licenses at the auction, amounting to 3,511 individual licenses in total, almost double that won by AT&T. 

AT&T bid just over $23.4bn to secure 1,621 licenses at auction, just over half of Verizon’s cash splash. 

T-Mobile politely remained on the outskirts of the frenzied contest, content to snap up a mere 142 licenses for the miserly sum of $9.3bn. 

The licenses sold cover around 280 MHz of spectrum between the 3.3 GHz and 4.2 GHz frequencies. The frequencies’ location between the fast but limited high band - or mmWave - frequencies and the broad but slow low band spectrum are expected to make the licenses an important element of Verizon and AT&T’s 5G strategies going forward. 


Featured Articles

The end of an era: Apple to stop production of the iPod

After twenty years, Apple has announced it will be discontinuing production of the iPod, the music device that introduced many consumers to the brand

Vodafone: Network slicing and its role in 5G

Following Vodafone and Ericsson’s creation of the UK’s first on-demand 5G network slice, we take a look at the concept in more detail

Nokia's Jane Rygaard on diversity in technology

Jane Rygaard, Head of Dedicated Wireless Networks & Edge Clouds, discusses the role of diversity in making technology for the masses

CSL Mobile, Forghetti launch password management solution

Technology & AI

Ericsson, Oredoo partner on 5G for 2022 Qatar sports event

5G & IoT

Ciena interconnects Digital Realty Throughout APAC