FCC to hold first major wireless spectrum auctions since 2008
The opening sentence to the FCC's announcement really tells the whole story: "To say that a spectrum auction is long overdue is an understatement." Wireless carriers have been complaining about a lack of spectrum for quite a while as the demand for wireless service has skyrocketed over the past few years. Now, the FCC is finally planning its first major wireless spectrum auctions since 2008.
The FCC is getting ready to auction off the H block of spectrum for mobile broadband use; and, according to analysts speaking with the Wall Street Journal, the four major U.S. wireless carriers plus Dish Network may end up spending as much as $46 billion in a series of auctions that will take place over the next two years.
The first piece of H block spectrum is planned to be auctioned off this week, and is expected to cost about $1.6 billion in total. So far only Dish Network is signed up for bidding, meaning that Dish will likely end up winning a large portion of this first piece. Later this year will see an auction for AWS-3 spectrum which is expected to be worth approximately $16 billion. And, the most valuable auction of all is expected to happen next year with a block of 600Mhz spectrum that is expected to generate quite a bidding war between the major wireless carriers.
AT&T is already salivating at the prospect, and the company's chief strategy officer John Stankey said about it, "We would like to participate in it very aggressively." Verizon is also mentioned how important this is because these auctions happen so rarely. And, members of the Justice Department have already begun discussing whether or not the government should somehow make sure that T-Mobile and Sprint don't get left out in the dust, since neither has the deep pockets of the big two.