Verizon and AT&T Spent Big on FCC’s C-Band Auction for 5G Spectrum

The long-awaited results of FCC Auction 107 are out now, with Verizon and AT&T spending heavily as anticipated on the coveted C-band spectrum. Verizon in particular spent almost twice as much as AT&T, spending $ 45 in total, 4 billion. AT & T’s total offering is $ 23.4 billion. T-Mobile is a distant third with $ 9.3 billion, which was also expected thanks to the strong mid-band spectrum holdings the company already had following the Sprint acquisition.

There’s nothing absolutely surprising here – we’ve known for a while that the total bid amounted to more than $ 80 billion, and that Verizon and AT&T in particular would be the highest bidders. The national 5G networks of those two carriers currently rely on narrower low-band frequencies that offer speeds not much faster than 4G LTE, and extremely fast millimeter-wave frequencies that face significant coverage challenges. If there’s any surprise here, it’s how much more Verizon spent than AT&T.

What remains to be seen is whether the new spectrum will help either carrier catch up with T-Mobile. Some analysts do not believe that it is so. In any case, the new frequencies will not be available until the end of the year at the earliest, and even then, they will be available first in limited locations.

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