AT&T and Dish big winners in latest 5G auction

AT&T and Dish big winners in latest 5G auction

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In the latest US Federal Communications Commission auction, AT&T and satellite TV provider Dish Network were the main winners of airwaves that were once reserved for the military and will soon be used for 5G wireless service, the FCC announced on Friday.

AT&T spent $9.1 billion and Dish spent $7.3 billion on wireless spectrum licenses that range between 2.5 gigahertz and 3.5 gigahertz radio frequencies. T-Mobile was the third highest bidder in the auction, spending $2.9 billion. Verizon Communications did not participate in the auction.

The so-called midband spectrum that has been auctioned off is seen as crucial for mobile operators to deploy the next generation of wireless services known as 5G, which promises to deliver much faster and faster wireless service. a more responsive network. Its ability to connect more devices and offer real-time feedback is expected to spark a sea change in the way we live and work, paving the way for new advancements such as self-driving cars and advanced augmented reality experiences.


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“The results of today’s 3.45 GHz auction demonstrate that the commission’s pivot to midrange spectrum for 5G was the right decision,” FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel said.

Median spectrum provides more balanced coverage and capacity due to its ability to cover a multi-kilometer radius with 5G, despite needing more cell sites than lower tier spectrum bands.

This band of spectrum was used exclusively by the military, which used it for naval radar systems, missile control, and air traffic control. In 2020, the Trump administration and the Department of Defense determined it could be shared with commercial providers for 5G service.

The auction began in October 2021 under the Biden administration. The FCC said revenue from the auction topped $22.5 billion. Congress required that a portion of the proceeds be used to pay for new equipment. This is intended to ensure that existing military equipment can coexist with cell towers and other equipment used by wireless operators as they deploy 5G service. All other money from the auction will go to the US Treasury.

The ghost is king

As demand for mobile services increases, wireless carriers have been claiming to open more untapped or undertapped airwaves. The FCC has worked to reallocate spectrum bands from other industries, including satellite broadcasting and television, to free up space for new mobile phone technologies. The agency also sought spectrum outside of commercial entities, coordinating efforts with government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, to provide commercial providers with better access to spectrum.

As a result, in recent years, the wireless industry has invested over $100 billion in acquiring these radio wave licenses. The FCC is planning even more auctions in the future.

But as spectrum is reallocated, there have been disputes over interference issues. Late last year, the Federal Aviation Administration were concerned that the use of the C-band spectrum, which had been auctioned in 2020, would interfere with aircraft cockpit safety equipment. The result was a standoff between the FAA, the aviation industry and wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon, which had planned to start using the spectrum they purchased to roll out 5G service.

Earlier this month, AT&T and Verizon have agreed to postpone the launch of their 5G services until January 19 using the C-band spectrum.