AT&T, Dish win big in Andromeda auction, Verizon gets nothing

AT&T and Dish Network walked away with the bulk of spectrum licenses up for grabs in the FCC's latest spectrum auction. AT&T agreed to spend roughly $9 billion on midband spectrum licenses for 5G, while Dish agreed to spend $7.3 billion.

Those results are mostly in line with analyst expectations.

T-Mobile agreed to spend almost $3 billion on spectrum licenses in the auction.

Interestingly, Verizon did not purchase any licenses. That's noteworthy considering Verizon spent more than $50 billion on licenses in the FCC's previous auction, of C-band spectrum, that ended last year. The company is planning to light up a network on that spectrum in the next few days.

Other winners in the auction, as disclosed by the FCC, include private equity companies like Grain Management and Columbia Capital, as well as a number of smaller investors and rural telecom providers.

Table 1: Andromeda auction winners
(Auction 110 of 3.45GHz-3.55GHz)

BidderBidding entityWinning bidsLicenses won
AT&TAT&T Auction Holdings, LLC$9 billion1,624
Dish NetworkWeminuche L.L.C.$7.3 billion1,232
T-MobileT-Mobile License LLC$2.9 billion199
Columbia CapitalThree Forty-Five Spectrum, LLC$1.4 billion18
UscellularUnited States Cellular Corporation$580 million380
Whitewater Wireless II, L.P.$428 million14
Grain ManagementNewLevel III, L.P. 0$376 million8
Moise AdvisoryCherry Wireless, LLC$211 million319
N Squared Wireless, LLC$101.8 million55
Skylake Wireless II, LLC$39 million57
Blue Ridge Wireless LLC$8.9 million39
Agri-Valley CommunicationsAgri-Valley Communications$8 million7
LICTLICT Wireless Broadband Company, LLC$7.7 million24
ViaeroNE Colorado Cellular, Inc.$6.7 million18
NsightNsight Spectrum, LLC$4.7 million6
East Kentucky NetworkEast Kentucky Network, LLC$4.4 million2
Carolina West WirelessCarolina West Wireless, Inc.$3.8 million11
PVTPVT Networks, Inc.$2 million6
Chat MobilityRSA 1 Limited Partnership$1.7 million1
Raptor Wireless LLC$845,700 6
Horry TelephoneHorry Telephone $88,060 12
PocketiNetPocketiNet Communications$59,501 1
Jones, Anthony L$1,575 2

Bidder identity included where available.
Source: FCC

The bidding portion of the FCC's auction, dubbed the "Andromeda auction" by Light Reading because it sounds cool, ended in November with a total of around $22 billion in winning bids. The agency on Friday released the identity of the winning bidders. The auction released 100MHz of midband spectrum between 3.45GHz and 3.55GHz. The event, dubbed Auction 110 by the FCC, started October 5.

The FCC's Andromeda auction is the agency's third-biggest spectrum auction ever. As noted by Next TV, only the $45 billion AWS-3 auction in 2015 and the $81 billion C-band auction last year generated more in winning bids.

The value of the spectrum licenses in the Andromeda auction could rise if interference concerns continue to drag on the C-band.

However, to put their licenses to use, Andromeda auction winners must purchase new radios that are capable of broadcasting signals in the 3.45GHz-3.55GHz band.

Smartphones may be a different matter, however. Executives from component supplier Resonant suggested that current smartphones that support the C-band might also be able to support 5G transmissions in the new 3.45GHz-3.55GHz band that's currently being auctioned. That's because both bands fall into the 3GPP's n77 technical standard, which stretches from 3.3GHz to 4.2GHz.

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