AT&T, T-Mobile lead bids in 24 GHz auction

AT&T came out as the high bidder in the 24 GHz auction, pledging over $982 million in payments for 831 licenses, but T-Mobile was next in line, making over $803 million in bids for 1,346 24 GHz licenses.

The FCC released the names and final bids of both Auction 101 and 102 on Monday. Auction 101, which saw the FCC auction off 28 GHz licenses, raised about $700 million in net bids, with 33 bidders winning a total of 2,965 licenses. The 24 GHz auction raised more than $2 billion, with 29 bidders winning a total of 2,904 licenses.

The fact that T-Mobile went after so many 24 GHz markets isn’t too surprising given it doesn't have as much millimeter wave spectrum as Verizon and AT&T. Verizon picked up a lot of millimeter wave spectrum with the acquisitions of Straight Path and XO

Prior to these latest millimeter wave auctions, AT&T had significantly more millimeter wave spectrum than T-Mobile. In fact, AT&T had 39 GHz spectrum in all of the top 50 urban centers, while T-Mobile only had millimeter wave spectrum in 17 of the top 50 markets, according to Brian Goemmer, president of Allnet Insights & Analytics. 

The mmWave situation before Auctions 101 and 102. 

T-Mobile had to be aggressive in the 24 GHz auction because urban areas were not available in the 28 GHz auction—Verizon already controlled almost all of them, Goemmer noted.

RELATED: It’s a wrap: FCC concludes first set of high-band auctions, raising $2.7B

Other high bidders in the 24 GHz auction include U.S. Cellular, which won 282 licenses for a gross payment of more than $126 million, and Starry, which won 104 licenses for over $48 million.

Verizon Wireless bid over $15 million for nine 24 GHz licenses and five PEAs. In the 28 GHz auction, it picked up another 1,066 licenses for over $505 million. 

U.S. Cellular won 408 licenses at 28 GHz, pledging to pay over $129 million.