The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the results of its 2.5GHz auction that wrapped up earlier this week and, as expected, T-Mobile US was the big winner in terms of the amount it spent, and the number of licences won.
A total of $427.8 million was raised across 73 rounds of bidding with T-Mobile accounting for $304 million of that amount. Out of the 8,017 county-based licenses available in Auction 108, the self-proclaimed ‘uncarrier’ came away with 7,156.
Missing from the list of top licence winners were AT&T, Verizon and Dish Network, who were among the 82 entities qualified to bid.
Prior to the auction starting on 29 July, there was speculation that AT&T, Verizon and Dish Network would bid in order to drive up the price on T-Mobile, but after spending billions of dollars in previous auctions they didn’t take part in bidding on spectrum that likely would have been surrounded by T-Mobile’s licences or leases.
Due to the unique nature of the 2.5GHz licences, which were widely available across rural areas of the US, analysts had predicted T-Mobile would snap up most of the licences because it already owns or leases large portions of Educational Broadband Service (EBS) 2.5GHz spectrum.
“As we could see, this was T-Mobile’s auction with the others being extras or spectators,” Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner stated to Mobile World Live (MWL), who also noted he was surprised the auction total went as high as it did.
Non-profit North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation won the second-largest number of licences with 107 followed by Evergy Kansas Central (54), LICT Wireless Broadband Company (46) and Broadband One of the Midwest (42).
Unlike the large mobile operators, small rural operators could expand their coverage in some areas by using the 2.5GHz spectrum in limited areas.
BitPath COO and auction analyst Sasha Javid noted there was extended bidding in Guam prior to the auction closing on Monday.
Guam-based PTI Pacifica, which is owned by Pacific Telecom, was second behind T-Mobile in total gross winning bids with close to $18 million spent.
TeleGuam Holdings was just behind PTI Pacifica with a total spend of $16,565,000 followed by Energy Kansas Central ($12,744,400) and Cellular South Licenses ($11,861,300).
The 2.5GHz auction used a clock-1 format, which allows only a single frequency-specific licence in a category in a county rather than offering multiple generic blocks across a broader geographic area.