updated 12:17 pm EST, Wed January 22, 2014
Auction of 10MHz airwaves expected to fetch at least $1.6B
The Federal Communications Commission has started its first major wireless spectrum auction in six years, with more auctions set to occur over the next 24 months. The Wall Street Journal reports today's auction will be for H-block spectrum, a block of 10MHz paired airwaves which is expected to be sold for at least $1.6 billion, with Dish Network likely to be the biggest winner.
On offer are two 5MHz bands of paired H Block spectrum that the FCC freed earlier this year. The 1915-1920MHz and 1995-2000MHz bands are a considerable amount of spectrum for any carrier to add to their existing allocations, though it appears that it may not go to any of the main carriers. While 23 bidders are confirmed, many are under pseudonyms according to Fierce Wireless, though Dish Network has been uncovered as one of those involved. In terms of competition, Sprint and T-Mobile revealed in November that they would not participate in the auction, while Verizon and AT&T are apparently not taking part either.
A win in the auction could be beneficial to Dish, as it attempts to expand its empire into becoming a carrier. The company notably failed to acquire Sprint in the face of competition from Softbank, later losing out on Clearwire and withdrawing a $2.2 billion bid for LightSquared and its L-band satellite spectrum.
Over the next two years, the FCC is expected to hold auctions for 50MHz of AWS-3 spectrum, as well as for broadcast TV spectrum in mid-2015. Including these auctions and other sales, the four major carriers and Dish are expected to spend somewhere in the region of $46 billion in spectrum over the next 24 months.