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AT&T, T-Mobile among top spenders in latest 5G spectrum auction


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AT&T, T-Mobile among top spenders in latest 5G spectrum auction

The winning bidders from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recent 24 GHz high-band spectrum auction were released June 3, and the top spenders were AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc.

AT&T spent $982.5 million in gross bids, the most of any bidder, which resulted in 831 licenses won across 383 partial economic areas. T-Mobile, meanwhile, won 1,346 licenses, the most of any bidder, across 400 partial economic areas, and spent $803.2 million in the process.

United States Cellular Corp. was the only other bidder to top $100 million in spending, disbursing $126.6 million in gross payments, which led to 282 licenses across 102 partial economic areas.

The FCC also released the winners of its 28 GHz auction, which was conducted prior to the 24 GHz auction. Verizon Communications Inc. led the winning bidders for the 28 GHz auction, taking 1,066 licenses for $505.7 million. The telco came in well ahead of the second-largest spender, U.S. Cellular, which won 408 licenses for $129.4 million.

The auctions for the 28 GHz and 24 GHz spectrum bands represent the first for high-band spectrum in the U.S. for 5G technology. The wide bands of millimeter-wave spectrum will enable operators to carry significantly more traffic at higher speeds, though the spectrum's higher frequencies mean it cannot travel very far and has trouble penetrating various surfaces.

Both AT&T and Verizon already possessed substantial millimeter-wave spectrum holdings through Verizon's purchase of Straight Path Communications Inc.'s millimeter-wave spectrum and AT&T's acquisition of wireless backhaul provider FiberTower Corp.

Together, the auctions of the 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands raised more than $2.7 billion in gross bids. Combined, 55 applicants were qualified to bid, and the winning bidders won 5,869 licenses.