The AWS-3 auction on Monday surpassed the FCC’s minimum target of $10.5 billion. The auction has raised $16.4 billion so far through 15 rounds.
UPDATE: Already, the AWS-3 auction is the FCC’s most successful auction ever, reports FierceWireless. After just six days of bidding it has raised more than $24 billion in provisionally winning bids, surpassing the $13.7 billion raised during the AWS-1 auction in 2006, and the $18.9 billion raised during the 700 MHz auction in 2008. Now some predict the AWS-3 auction could raise more than $30 billion (which it did easily the next day).
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile US are expected to grab the lion’s share of spectrum, but Dish Networks and non-U.S. companies including Mexico-based America Movil and Japan’s DoCoMo are among the potential bidders.
Dish Network has cobbled together nearly 55 megahertz of spectrum and has been looking for a wireless partner. The valuation of Dish’s 40 MHz in the nearby AWS-4 spectrum has already sent Dish Network stock rising. Their stock gained nearly 4% on Tuesday to a record high, and Dish was up more than 2%, above 69, in early trading in the stock market today. Dish also bought H-Block airwaves (adjacent to their AWS-4 spectrum), in March, raising $1.56 billion for the Treasury.
The FCC granted Dish flexibility to use 20 MHz of its AWS-4 spectrum at 2000-2020 MHz for uplink OR downlink operations. Dish owns uplink spectrum on the low end of AWS-4, but interference with the adjacent downlink H-block has been a concern.
If Dish is successful in attaining 15 MHz of uplink-only spectrum, then they could then pair it with AWS-4, converting uplink to downlink spectrum. In addition, Dish owns 6 MHz of 700 Mhz for downlink, potentially outflanking AT&T and Verizon in downlink spectrum. Their AWS Block H block could give them device interoperability/roaming with other carriers.
The FCC chose to require that AWS-3 spectrum be interoperable with AWS-1 spectrum, which many carriers currently use for LTE services. AWS-1 runs from 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz, notes Fierce Wireless, but the FCC left it up to carriers to voluntarily have AWS-3 be interoperable with AWS-4 (MSS) spectrum, which Dish Network controls.
Analysts have valued Dish’s airwaves in a wide range, from $7 billion to $17 billion. Whatever wireless firms pay for AWS-3 spectrum in specific markets could help set a value for Dish’s airwaves, analysts say. DISH is also part of three separate bidding consortia: American AWS-3 Wireless I LLC, Northstar Wireless, LLC and SNR Wireless LicenseCo, LLC.
The auction of 50 MHz of paired spectrum has increased evaluations of spectrum, according to New Street research analyst Jonathan Chaplin.
Cash-short but spectrum-rich Sprint will sit out the auction.
The AWS-3 auction is not as straightforward as previous auctions because two chunks of spectrum are currently used by federal agencies, including the Department of Defense. In most cases, federal spectrum users will have to exit the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands or geographically share them with commercial users.
The Report and Order sets flexible-use regulatory, licensing, and technical rules for 65 megahertz of spectrum in the AWS-3 band, which includes the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands.
The FCC adopted rules to allocate and license the 1695-1710 MHz band for uplink/mobile operations on an unpaired shared basis with incumbent Federal meteorological-satellite (MetSat) data users.
The other 50 MHz block is more traditional. They will assign AWS-3 licenses by competitive bidding, offering 5 megahertz and 10 megahertz blocks that can be aggregated using Economic Areas (EAs). The FCC’s decision to license only one paired 5×5 MHz block in smaller Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) was disappointing for most competitive carriers.
The Order will make 50 megahertz (of the total 65 megahertz) of the AWS-3 spectrum available for commercial use. The 15 MHz chunk will be available on a shared basis with federal incumbents.
The 1695-1710 MHz band will be unpaired spectrum used for low-power uplink operations. The 1755-1780 MHz band will be licensed for low-power uplink operations and will be paired with the 2155-2180 MHz band, which is unencumbered by federal users, for downlink operations.
The Advanced Wireless Service (3) auction started on Thursday and could last weeks. It’s the first major sale of airwaves since 2008 when the 700 MHz auction raised some $19 Billion for the treasury. That spectrum is now utilized by AT&T, Verizon and others for nationwide LTE service. The current AWS auction will put some 65 MHz of spectrum on the auction block.
Some proceeds of the AWS-3 auction will go toward FirstNet, the stand alone LTE public safety network, on the 700 MHz band.
Related Dailywireless articles include; 70 Companies Qualified for AWS-3 Auction, Dish Wins Everything in H-Block PCS Auction, FCC Sets AWS-3 Auction Rules, AWS-3 Auction Rules: Who Benefits?, Verizon Activates AWS Band , DOJ Sets Conditions for Verizon AWS, Verizon Getting AWS Spectrum Says WSJ, T-Mobile Okayed to Test Spectrum Sharing, Verizon’s Spectrum Deal: Tough Nut, AT&T Buys 2.3 GHz from NextWave, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE, FCC to Okay Verizon/Cable Spectrum Buy