Analysts tipped an upcoming auction of mid-range C-Band spectrum in the US to draw blockbuster bids, as major players Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile US and UScellular lined up for a piece of the action.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) named the operators as qualified bidders alongside 53 other companies, including Dish Network (bidding as Little Bear Wireless) and cable operators Comcast and Charter Communications (bidding together as C&C Wireless), among others.
Analysts at financial company Raymond James in a research note tipped the C-Band auction (3.7GHz to 4.2GHz spectrum) to bring in “dramatically higher bids” than a 3.5GHz sale earlier this year, given more, less encumbered spectrum is on offer. They estimated the final tally would reach more than $30 billion, compared with the $4.6 billion raised in the earlier proceeding.
Unlike C-Band, 3.5GHz in the US is shared between commercial and government users, and split into licensed and unlicensed access tiers, with power limits placed on operations.
The C-Band sale will include 280MHz of spectrum, four-times the 70MHz available during the 3.5GHz auction.
Wells Fargo Securities analysts also forecast operators will spend big, earlier this week predicting Verizon will be the most aggressive with an estimated $21.8 billion in bids and T-Mobile following with $8.2 billion.
They highlighted the auction as a key opportunity for operators jostling for 5G supremacy, noting in the coming years “mid-band spectrum will be the true competitive advantage due to its combination of capacity and coverage”.
Bidding is set to begin 8 December, with Raymond James analysts tipping it to run well into Q1 2021.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back