Well there’s a surprise.
U.S. Cellular, the nation’s fifth largest wireless carrier, revealed it submitted bids in the FCC’s ongoing low band spectrum auction totaling at least $327 million.
The notice was provided in a Thursday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission following the close of the Clock Phase of the auction on Feb. 10 with proceeds of $19.63 billion. The carrier noted the $327 million total could increase during the upcoming Assignment Phase, during which winning bidders will bid on certain blocks within their winning markets. The Assignment Phase is slated to begin on Monday, March 6.
“With the completion of the Clock Phase of the auction, U.S. Cellular is now committed to purchase 600 MHz spectrum licenses on which it submitted bids for a minimum amount of $327 million, subject to increase as the FCC completes the Assignment Phase of the auction, which is pending,” the company wrote. “U.S. Cellular expects to be obligated to pay for the total committed amount, less the $143 million upfront payment made in June 2016, in the second quarter of 2017. U.S. Cellular currently expects to make such payment using cash on hand and/or borrowings under its revolving credit agreement.”
The move came as a surprise given the quiet period – which bars auction participants from discussing the auction or spectrum-related deals – for forward auction bidders is still in effect. In fact, the FCC recently warned bidders the quiet period will extend throughout the duration of the Assignment Phase, which is scheduled to end on March 30.
None of the Tier-1 carriers included such information in their recent SEC filings, including T-Mobile, who made its earnings report following the close of the Clock Phase.
A U.S. Cellular spokeswoman said only the filing was “required by SEC regulations.”
An FCC representataive declined to comment.
Filed Under: Industry regulations