Well lookey lookey who came away with the cookie(s). The FCC has just revealed details on the winners of the recently ended 700Mhz spectrum auction, and it looks like industry heavyweights AT&T and Verizon Wireless are walking away with the biggest slices of 700Mhz-cake.
As expected, Verizon Wireless managed to wrangle the highly sought-after and talked-up C-Block with requisite open-access stipulations. Big Red’s $4,741,807,000 bid earned them the right to claim the necessary 700Mhz C-Block licenses to blanket the continental United States, forgoing coverage in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Gulf of Mexico. Verizon’s bid bested Google’s $4.71 billion bid for the open-access spectrum.
AT&T plunked down a respectable chunk of change to win a 12Mhz swatch of 700Mhz B-Block spectrum in 227 regional licenses. The new spectrum can be used with AT&T’s recently acquired spectrum from Aloha Partners.
MetroPCS, the unlimited calling plan carrier, also scored big with an A-Block license that covers the Boston area.
Qualcomm also came away with portions of the B- and E-Block – possibly to augment their MediaFLO bandwidth. Frontier Wireless, in partnership with EchoStar, also won licenses in the E-Block that covers most of the US. Will Frontier Wireless launch their own video network on this spectrum? Possibly, we’ll have to wait and see.
Qualcomm’s bid on the public-safety D-Block didn’t meet the reserve price of $1.13 billion, so we should be seeing that slice of spectrum go up for auction in the near future.
So, what net effect can we expect from the biggest wireless auction in US history? The industry’s No. 1 and No. 2 wireless carriers just got that much stronger and are poised to usher in more advanced wireless services in the near future. AT&T’s spectrum holdings “position the company to further enhance the quality and reliability of existing wireless broadband and voice services, and to set the foundation for new-generation wireless broadband technologies and services,” according to Ralph de la Vega, head of AT&T’s wireless unit.
Unfortunately, we won’t see any more competition in the wireless industry from start-ups and newcomers. What we’ll see is more of the same from wireless incumbents AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Which is to say, more of the same policies attached to more advanced wireless services.