The FCC’s AWS auction ended today (FCC summary) with no new bids or other activity in the sale of 1,122 licenses. It started Aug. 9th and finished today grossing $13.9 billion for the U.S. Treasury. T-Mobile USA, the No. 4 U.S. wireless provider, topped the bidding by offering almost $4.2 billion for 120 licenses.
The 28-day-long auction ended after 161 rounds, with 104 of the 168 registered bidders winning at least one license. All but 35 of the total 1,122 licenses up for grabs received bids.
Top 10 Highest AWS Bidders
|Bidders||Net total of high bids|
|1. T-Mobile||$4.2 billion|
|2. Verizon Wireless||$2.8 billion|
|3. SpectrumCo||$2.4 billion|
|4. MetroPCS||$1.4 billion|
|5. Cingular||$1.3 billion|
|6. Cricket||$710 million|
|7. Denali Spectrum||$365 million|
|8. Barat Wireless||$127 million|
|9. AWS Wireless||$116 million|
|10. Atlantic Wireless||$81 million|
|Click here to find out who is backing these bidders.|
The FCC’s Advanced Wireless Services auction will likely be used for 3G (W-CDMA) phone services.
T-Mobile was the high bidder on 120 licenses, covering markets in the continental U.S., Hawaii, the U.S. Caribbean and Alaska while Verizon Wireless, the No. 2 player in the nation, pledged $2.8 billion for 13 licenses and No. 1 carrier Cingular — co-owned by AT&T and BellSouth — bid $1.3 billion for 48 licenses.
SpectrumCo, the Sprint/Cable group, agreed to pay $2.4 billion for 137 licenses in cities including New York, Boston, Washington, Detroit and Atlanta. AWS Wireless was declared the provisional winning bidder for 154 licenses covering 63 million people in the United States. The licenses, subject to final FCC regulatory approval, include markets such as Pittsburgh, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, Sacramento, New Orleans, Tulsa, Little Rock, El Paso, Albany, Louisville, Sarasota, Anchorage, and Fort Myers.
While the Bush Administration promised to “bridge the digital divide” with 90 MHz of new spectrum, it was cellular operators that had the money.
Cellular operators had an advantage from the start (see: 3G Band Scam?). That’s because the FCC carved up the spectrum into FDD (dual-frequency) channels for 3G cellular operators.
A “4G” system, like Mobile WiMAX, is optimized for TDD (single-frequency). It can deliver faster, cheaper, more competive broadband wireless with IP everywhere by using COFDMA, beamforming and MIMO antennas over a single channel. The FCC’s duplex policy appears to have put Mobile WiMAX at a competitive disadvantage. WiMAX can do FDD but you’d loose the advantages of COFDMA.
When it comes to FCC policy, money talks.
One major new competitor DID emerge; SpectrumCo. The joint venture by Sprint and cable companies will enable cable companies to offer competitive wireless services in a few years. But don’t look for any bargains using AWS (3g) phone service.
The broadband wireless landscape for the United States is done. Stick a fork in it.
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