FCC Announces Winning Bidders in 3.45 GHz Auction
Friday, January 14, 2022 | Comments

The FCC announced winning bidders from its 5G spectrum auction of flexible-use licenses in the 3.45 GHz band.

Thirteen of the 23 companies with winning bids in this Auction 110 qualified as small businesses or as entities serving rural communities. In addition, compared to the prior 5G auction, this auction saw a substantial increase in the number of winning bidders per market: over one-third of the top 100 markets had at least four winning bidders, compared to 10% of the top 100 markets for Auction 107. This broader range and distribution of winning bidders will increase competition by providing a diversity of wireless carriers with the mid-band spectrum resources needed to maintain American leadership in 5G.

“Today’s 3.45 GHz auction results demonstrate that the commission’s pivot to mid-band spectrum for 5G was the right move,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “I am pleased to see that this auction also is creating opportunities for a wider variety of competitors, including small businesses and rural service providers. This is a direct result of the commission’s efforts to structure this auction with diversity and competition front of mind. Enabling commercial use of this spectrum is important to America’s continuing economic recovery and 5G leadership, and I look forward to the continued collaboration between the FCC, NTIA and other federal agencies to find innovative ways to make spectrum available for next generation commercial and government services.”

The five bidders with the largest total gross winning bid amounts from both the clock and assignments phases were AT&T Auction Holdings with $9.07 billion, Weminuche with $7.3 billion, T-Mobile License with $2.89 billion, Three Forty-Five Spectrum with $1.37 billion and United States Cellular with $579 million.

The five bidders winning the largest number of licenses were AT&T Auction Holdings with 1,624 licenses; Weminuche with 1,232; United States Cellular with 380; Cherry Wireless with 319; and T-Mobile License with 199.

Auction 110 saw winning bidders in the clock phase for 4,041 of the 4,060 available generic blocks in the 3.45 – 3.55 GHz band. Gross proceeds for the auction exceeded $22.5 billion. This successfully surpasses the requirement that Auction 110 cover at least 110% of the expected sharing and relocation costs for federal users currently operating in the band — in this case $14,775,354,330, based on a January 14, 2021, estimate from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Notably, the 3.45 GHz auction closed as one of highest grossing auctions in the FCC’s history.

This successful auction will enable robust commercial use by an array of service providers while also ensuring that federal incumbents are still protected from harmful interference where and when they require continued access to the band. Collectively, the 3.45 GHz band and the neighboring 3.5 GHz and 3.7 GHz bands represent 530 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for 5G.

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