AT&T, Dish and T-Mobile spend billions buying more 5G spectrum

AT&T, Dish and T-Mobile have poured billions of dollars into the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) auction for more 5G spectrum licenses in the mid-range 3.45GHz to 3.55GHz band, it was learned. While AT&T was the biggest spender at $9 billion, Dish spent $7.3 billion, followed by T-Mobile at $2.9 billion.

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Verizon was notably absent from the auction. Some smaller companies also made the list, such as Three Forty-Five Spectrum. The auction officially ended in November, but the FCC has not publicly disclosed the winning bidder until now. It is understood that the total bid amounted to about $22.5 billion, making it the third-largest FCC spectrum auction to date.

Previously, only last year’s $80 billion C-band auction and 2015’s $44.9 billion AWS-3 auctions exceeded that spending amount. When it comes to using the 3.45GHz band, however, Light Reading said companies will have to deploy new radios on cell towers that have the ability to broadcast signals on them.

Light Reading also pointed out that smartphones that support C-band may already be able to use the band, as they are all part of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) n77 technology standard, which covers 3.3GHz to 4.2GHz, and existing 5G smartphones Cell phones are already in use.

While the 3.45GHz band operates very close to the C-band, it is unlikely to interfere with aircraft equipment. Verizon and AT&T will deploy their expanded 5G C-band service on Jan. 19 after the FAA twice delayed the launch of 5G C-band service due to aircraft safety concerns.

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