Gavel with money behind it

C-Band Auction Results

The FCC’s C-Band Auction closed in January, but the full results weren’t released until earlier today. Here’s how I described the auction in a previous post:

In the C band auction, about 280 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.7-3.98GHz range was reallocated to cellular companies. Spectrum in this frequency range is particularly appealing to operators of cellular networks. The spectrum offers great characteristics, combining a potential for covering large areas with a potential for delivering fast speeds.

The C-Band Auction had fifty-seven qualified bidders. Twenty-one of the bidders won at least one spectrum license. Here’s a breakdown of the winners (note that Cellco Partnership is Verizon and Little Bear Wireless is Dish):

Bidder Gross Winning BidsLicenses Won
Cellco Partnership$45,454,843,197 3,511
AT&T Spectrum Frontiers LLC$23,406,860,839 1,621
T-Mobile License LLC$9,336,125,147 142
United States Cellular Corporation$1,282,641,542 254
NewLevel II, L.P.$1,277,395,688 10
Canopy Spectrum, LLC$197,021,760 84
Widespread Wireless, LLC$64,606,668 14
Cellular South Licenses, LLC$49,850,284 8
Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$23,652,000 4
Carolina West Wireless, Inc.$18,565,480 7
Nex-Tech Wireless, L.L.C.$12,164,043 5
East Kentucky Network, LLC$8,675,753 1
Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$7,638,336 3
Smith Bagley, Inc.$6,635,510 4
Nsight Spectrum, LLC$5,424,123 3
Agri-Valley Communications, Inc.$4,915,460 2
LICT Wireless Broadband Company, LLC$4,267,485 5
Union Telephone Company$3,123,600 2
Little Bear Wireless L.L.C.$2,510,020 1
Grand River Communications, Inc.$1,590,200 2
Granite Wireless LLC$170,510 1

Verizon spent a bit more than some analysts expected. Interestingly, Dish barely spent anything. While Comcast and Charter registered to participate jointly as C&C Wireless Holding Company, they did not win any licenses.

The full results can be explored in the FCC’s Public Reporting System.

Spectrum Is Expensive

The FCC’s C band auction recently closed with a total of about 81 billion dollars in bids. This was by far the highest-grossing spectrum auction in U.S. history. Previously, the largest auction garnered about 45 billion dollars.1

In the C band auction, about 280 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.7-3.98GHz range was reallocated to cellular companies. Spectrum in this frequency range is particularly appealing to operators of cellular networks. The spectrum offers great characteristics, combining a potential for covering large areas with a potential for delivering fast speeds.

The amount of money committed in the recent auction drives home a point that I think most casual observers miss: spectrum is an enormous expense for cellular networks in the U.S. With the auction closing at about 81 billion dollars, U.S. networks are spending over $250 per person in the United States in a single auction.2