The spectrum auction that some have hoped might change the landscape of the U.S. wireless industry may not be all that disruptive after all.
Mobile carriers and would-be wireless service providers are highly unlikely to meet the FCC's enormous $86.4 billion clearing cost to acquire TV broadcasters' spectrum at auction. And while that may not be good news for existing network operators, it may boost the value of spectrum that's already being held by players such as Dish Network and Ligado.
The FCC will truly need to see a "spectrum extravaganza" during the forward auction of 600 MHz airwaves if the event is going to be completed anytime soon.
The "reverse" portion of the FCC's incentive auction of 600 MHz spectrum could end this week, BTIG Research reported. And that will trigger the FCC's disclosure of the amount of money bidders in the forward auction must spend to end the event.
T-Mobile once again urged the FCC to stick with its 39-month repacking timeframe following the incentive auction of 600 MHz spectrum, saying any delay "would impose grave harm on consumers."
T-Mobile reportedly will pay $420 million for 12 MHz of 700 MHz A Block spectrum in Chicago-- far more than the $250 million to $300 million UBS valued it at-- despite the fact that T-Mobile was the only legitimate prospective bidder for those airwaves. But whether that transaction is a harbinger of bidding in the upcoming incentive auction of 600 MHz airwaves is still anyone's guess.
T-Mobile executives said last week that they believe they'll be able to deploy some of the 600 MHz spectrum they expect to pocket during this year's auction by the end of 2017. And CFO Braxton Carter told investors today that the carrier will also have handsets ready to support those airwaves.
Jefferies analysts took issue with recent claims that Dish Network's spectrum holdings are over-valued, saying the mid-band airwaves are superior for supporting increasing data usage and ramping up capacity.
Some industry analysts have speculated that it may take several years before carriers can begin to deploy services on the 600 MHz airwaves that the FCC will put up for auction in the coming weeks. But T-Mobile executives think they may be able to begin to leverage that spectrum as early as 2017.
Bidding for the FCC's reverse auction of 600 MHz airwaves is slated to start May 31, kicking off what Chairman Tom Wheeler has predicted will be a "spectrum extravaganza." But Wells Fargo Securities analysts are questioning just how valuable carriers view that low-band spectrum.