The FCCs first auction of Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) spectrum licenses ended on Monday, with 104 bidders winning 1,087 licenses.
FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin called the auction the biggest and most successful in the agencys history. The spectrum offered was the largest amount of spectrum suitable for deploying wireless broadband ever made available in a single FCC auction, he said in a news release. It grossed nearly $13.9 billion. I am particularly pleased that more than half of the winning bidders were small businesses. I hope many of these smaller companies will fulfill the promise of advanced wireless services in Americas underserved and rural areas.
The FCC is counting on the auction winners to use the spectrum as a springboard for new devices. For example, sports fans watching their favorite team will no longer need to wait until they get home to catch up on the games they will be able to watch highlights and obtain scores on their mobile devices in real time, Martin explained.
The auction lasted 161 rounds. T-Mobile License LLC, Verizon Wireless, Cingular AWS LLC and MetroPCS were among the winning bidders.
Mobile carriers without an existing 3G footprint (such as T-Mobile) need the AWS spectrum to compete with those that do have the reach; AWS spectrum is high-capacity and appropriate for “4G” buildouts for mobile TV and other services that will stretch the existing 3G network capacity if widely adopted. Cellular carriers also can use it to expand 3G capacity in crowded urban markets, while cablecos and others can use it to attain the wireless piece of the quad play. CLECs, too, can use it to build out WiMAX or other BWA networks to solve the last-mile issue and avoid the RBOCs; and big wireless players simply may want to prevent non-3G operators from getting their hands on spectrum and becoming a competitive threat.
The FCC is holding on to the unsold licenses and will make them available again in a future auction.