Verizon, AT&T Dominate 700 MHz Auction

Verizon, AT&T Dominate 700 MHz Auction

Verizon and AT&T were the big winners in the FCC‘s much-watched 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction (PDF), bidding more than $16 billion to control vast swathes of the soon-to-be-available spectrum that may be the United States best hope for nationwide wireless broadband services. The auction comprised a total of 1,099 licenses, including both nationwide blocks and many regional licenses.

Verizon Wireless won the largest nationwide C spectrum block, bidding $4.74 billion to narrowly outbid Internet titan Google, which bid $4.71 billion for the same block. Verizon also scored 25 regional licenses within the 700 MHz band, enabling it to roll out or sub-license services in those regions. Verizon now has licenses to 700 MHz services throughout the United States, save for Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Gulf of Mexico.

AT&T won a total of 227 regional licenses around the United States, comprising much of the auctions’ B block. AT&T will no doubt use those licenses to bolster a 700 Mhz spectrum license it bought from Aloha Partners prior to the FCC auction; taken together, AT&T now has 700 MHz bandwidth in most of the nations’ major wireless markets. Industry watchers wondered if AT&T would be a major player in the 700 MHz auction since it was the only major operator to have secured 700 MHz spectrum rights prior to the auction.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin hailed the 700 MHz spectrum auction as a “significant” success (PDF), saying the new spectrum licenses would enhance competition for wireless services, and noting the auction raised a record amount of money for the U.S. government. However, the auction failed to find a buyer for one nationwide “D block” license that came with a minimum bid of $1.3 billion and a requirement that the license holder develop a national emergency response frequency.

Industry watchers, however, have mixed feelings about the auction results. On one hand, the results are a victory of sorts for Google, even though the company did not succeed in winning a chunk of 700 MHz spectrum. (Google was likely not interested in being a wireless operator anyway, but would have likely sub-licensed spectrum to other partners.) Google’s participation helped ensure the winning bid for the largest block of spectrum was large enough to trigger “openness” rules the FCC (somewhat reluctantly) attached to that spectrum block; now the winner (Verizon) will have to allow a wide range of devices and applications to utilize the spectrum block, and will not be able to tie it down exclusively to its own applications and services.

On the other hand, the results of the 700 MHz auction means the two largest wireless operators in the country—AT&T and Verizon—possibly locking in their dominance of the wireless industry for years to come.

One interesting buy in the auction: Frontier Wireless bid a total of nearly $712 million for 700 MHz licenses in the lower-bandwidth E block; the company is a subsidiary of satellite television operator Dish Network. Qualcomm also won portions of the B and E blocks.

The 700 MHz spectrum blocks will become available for use on February 19, 2009, when analog television transmissions cease in the United States.


T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.

Sprint’s 5G rollout: Everything you need to know about it

Sprint is building its next-gen 5G network in preparation for a 2019 rollout, but it's taking a decidedly different approach than some of its competitors, including Verizon and AT&T. Here's everything you need to know.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.

AT&T adds Minneapolis and Chicago to its mobile 5G road map for 2019

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.

The best Honor View 20 cases to keep your midrange beauty intact

With power to rival flagships, great looks, and a stunning camera, the Honor View 20 is an excellent phone -- but it still needs protection from hazards. Here are some of the best Honor View 20 cases.

5G is the swift kick VR and AR gaming needs to come to fruition

There's a lot of hype surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality, but is it really the next big thing? We take a look at where the new mediums stand, as well as how 5G is poised to help them break into the mainstream.

Be careful who you bokeh, jokes Apple’s latest iPhone ad

With iPhone sales under pressure, you'd think there wouldn't be much to laugh about at Apple HQ. But the company has seen fit to inject some humor into its latest handset ad, which highlights the camera's Depth Control feature.

Samsung's Unpacked draws near. Here's what we know about the Galaxy S10 so far

It won't be long now. With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

Gorilla Glass 6 will cover the Xiaomi Mi 9's AMOLED screen

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.

Flip from portrait to landscape as we reveal how to rotate a video on iPhone

If you've accidentally shot a video in portrait orientation and you want to flip to landscape, then this is the guide for you. We'll explain how to use iMovie to rotate a video on your iPhone or iPad for free and suggest alternative apps.

The 2019 iPhone could put a charge into your other Apple gadgets

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.

Own an unlocked Galaxy S9? The U.S. Android Pie update has landed

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…