As the FCC’s 600 MHz incentive auction draws to a close, the Competitive Carriers Association has made it clear it’s pretty pleased with how the process has shaken out so far.
In a blog post this week, CCA EVP and General Counsel Rebecca Murphy Thompson and Policy Counsel Courtney Neville said the auction’s spectrum reserve system “worked exactly as intended” to expand access to low-band spectrum and increase auction participation.
To prove their point, the pair cited public results from the auction, noting that reserve bidders paid nearly the same price as non-reserve bidders on a nationwide basis and came away with just a one percent price discount. Additionally, Thompson and Neville said more than 90 percent of revenue from the auction’s $19.6 billion total was generated before the reserve conditions were met. And in 81 markets, reserve bidders paid more for reserve-clock licenses than they paid for non-reserve spectrum, they said.
“By following Congress’ mandate and creating a spectrum reserve, the FCC rightly recognized that wireless carriers, large and small, need access to low-band spectrum to deploy in rural areas and provide premium in-building coverage throughout the country,” Thompson and Neville wrote. “The spectrum reserve properly balanced each of these goals and may very well have increased total auction revenues as a result. The auction is a win, win, win for consumers (and taxpayers), carriers, and competition.”
The post comes as the FCC’s auction proceedings make their way through the assignment phase, during which winning bidders bid to secure particular blocks in their markets. Though the auction is not yet formally over, onlookers are already trying to sift through evidence to find out who bid how much and where.
In a February filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Cellular revealed it shelled out $327 million on winning bids in the forward auction – a figure it said could rise during the assignment phase. AT&T also hinted at its auction spending in its own recent SEC filing, noting “Our commitment to purchase 600 MHz spectrum licenses for which we submitted bids is expected to be more than satisfied by the deposits made to the FCC in the third quarter of 2016.” Those deposits, as laid out by BTIG’s Walter Piecyk in October, likely totaled around $2.4 billion.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)