A new report from Wells Fargo analysts highlights just how important major U.S. metro markets are for wireless carriers. The report shows that AWS-3 spectrum license prices for the top three U.S. markets are 94 percent above the average prices in the auction.
All the while when we were trapped in the Title II News Blizzard that made any other topic seem small and irrelevant, the FCC has been conducting an auction of wireless spectrum. This wasn't supposed to be the big auction--that honor was reserved for the incentive auction, in which broadcasters would sell spectrum they hadn't deployed since the digital TV transition consolidated things. This was just an auction for "AWS-3" spectrum, Advanced Wireless Service frequencies in a high band that wasn't expected to pique much carrier interest. The FCC had set a reserve price of $10.6 billion.
The FCC's AWS-3 spectrum auction is crawling along toward its conclusion, with total provisional winning bids now topping $43.7 billion. There are also signs that the auction will end shortly.
Nokia Networks said it completed the first demonstration of TDD-FDD carrier aggregation on a commercial chipset in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, in conjunction with Saudi Telecom Company (STC).
The FCC voted 3-2 on Thursday to seek comment on specific and detailed rules for how the incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum will be conducted. Notably, the preliminary rules set a benchmark of $1.25 per MHz-POP in the largest markets before wireless carriers can start bidding on the "reserved" spectrum that will be set aside for smaller carriers.
T-Mobile US will continue to hunt for 700 MHz A Block spectrum but already has spectrum in that band covering 185 million POPs in 24 of the top 30 U.S. markets, according to CFO Braxton Carter.
The FCC is forcing bidders in the AWS-3 spectrum auction to place new bids on 95 percent of the licenses for which they are eligible or face the prospect of not being able to make any more bids. The shift to "stage two" of the auction process, with the attendant change in bidding rules, is another indication that bidding is starting to wind down in the auction, which has gone on nearly a month.
T-Mobile US is selling stock in an offering that is likely going to raise $1 billion. The carrier indicated it will use the proceeds for capital expenditures and spectrum purchases beyond what it may acquire in the ongoing AWS-3 auction.
T-Mobile US is siding with the Competitive Carriers Association in coming out against setting a specific price per MHz-POP that must be hit in order to trigger bidding for "reserved" spectrum in the upcoming 600 MHz incentive auction.
With bidding in the AWS-3 spectrum auction winding down, financial analysts think Dish Network is likely going to walk away as a major winner, especially if it can secure paired spectrum licenses in major markets. According to a research note from analysts at New Street Research, that would give Dish leverage over Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility, which have likely spent big at the auction.