AT&T, Dish Big Winners in FCC's Latest Mid-Band Auction
Updated: Added info about bandwidth by carrier.
The US FCC (Federal Communications Commission) just announced the winners of its auction 110, for prime new mid-band radio spectrum ideal for 5G. AT&T and Dish spent the most, each splurging for enough licenses to cover the entire continental US. AT&T spent $9 billion, while Dish spent $7.3 billion. AT&T purchased the maximum number of licenses allowed in each area (four), giving it 40 MHz of new bandwidth nationwide. Dish appears to have purchased closer to 3 licenses per area on average, for potentially around 30 MHz of bandwidth nationwide. T-Mobile laid out $1.4 billion for licenses covering 79 of the 406 geographic areas offered. US Cellular spent $580 million. Verizon did not appear to win any licenses, although they were already big winners in the two previous mid-band auctions, and therefore did not need this particular spectrum as much as AT&T did. T-Mobile already operates more mid-band 5G than anyone else, and also participated in the C Band auction. Auction 110 is for the 3.45 GHz band (spanning 3.45 – 3.55 GHz), which is very near the new C Band spectrum that AT&T and Verizon are expected to launch next week for new 5G service. However it is a lower frequency than C Band, and therefore should not run into the same issues with the FAA that recently delayed the launch of 5G in the C Band. This new 3.45 GHz band, C Band, and Verizon's CBRS band (the 3.5 GHz band AKA band 48) are all covered by band 77, which is already supported in most new 5G phones launched by AT&T and Verizon since the beginning of 2021.
There's a whole new kind of 5G being launched and talked about in the US in 2022: C Band. It's much faster than existing "nationwide" 5G, yet has better coverage than hard-to-find mmWave 5G.
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