FCC Incentive Auction Forward Results
T-Mobile was the big winner in the auction with 1,525 licenses for $8B. T-Mobile purchased 45% of the total spectrum auctioned, with bids concentrated in the B, C, D and E-blocks. T-Mobile purchased an average of 31MHz/pop nationwide and paid an average of $0.83/MHz/POP.
John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, was quick to point out that consumers will be the real winners in the U.S. when they begin to utilize the 600 MHz band of spectrum later this year.
Dish was the real surprise of the auction winning 486 licenses for a total of $6.2B. Dish purchased about 26% of the total spectrum auctioned, with bids concentrated in the F and G-blocks. Dish paid an average of $1.12/MHz/POP, with about 22 MHz in the top 35 markets.
Dish has now assembled a complete package of spectrum including low band for coverage and mid-band spectrum for capacity. Charlie Ergen’s strategy will continue to keep all possible options open: selling spectrum, leasing spectrum or some combination. His spectrum build-out requirements are coming up soon.
Comcast had winning bids of over $1.7B. Comcast purchased 10 MHz in 46% of population covered – aligning with a footprint of their cable assets. Comcast paid $1.17/MHz/POP with winning bids in the A-Block.
Comcast has had a very erratic wireless strategy over the past 20 years. They have owned wireless assets, had equity stakes in other operators and also have provided facilities based wireless services.
Mid-year 2017 they will launch a wireless MVNO riding Verizon’s infrastructure. The spectrum purchased in this auction provides them optionality to integrate with their fiber assets for 5G.
AT&T won 23 licenses across 18 markets for $910M. They paid an average of $1.12/MHz/POP for primarily D and E-blocks in 20% of the population covered.
Going into the auction, AT&T had built up a considerable low band spectrum position. They won the First Responder Network authority (FirstNet) proposal to build-out a nationwide emergency network which includes 20MHz in the 700 MHz band. This likely impacted their bidding strategy for this auction.
Verizon did not win any spectrum in this auction. This surprised many in the industry that believed VZ needed additional low band spectrum. Walter Piecyk, wireless analyst from BTIG, correctly predicted from VZ 10Q’s that VZ did not make the required deposits to participate in this auction.
Sprint decided to not participate in this auction. Their focus the past several years has been on integrating the 2.5MHz spectrum assets purchased from Clearwire.
U.S. Cellular, Bluewater Wireless II, New Level LLC, Omega Wireless LLC and T Star 600, LLC also were significant winners in this auction.
After years and years of FCC planning which involved designing a very complicated forward/reverse auction process, we are delighted this auction has finally completed. We now have very current industry prices for spectrum in the 600 MHz band for all markets.