AT&T and Dish big winners in latest 5G auction

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AT&T and satellite TV provider Dish Network are the top winners of airwaves once reserved for military use that will soon be used for 5G wireless service in the Federal Communications Commission’s latest auction, agency said on Friday,

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AT&T spent $9.1 billion and Dish spent $7.3 billion to license the wireless spectrum that sits on the radio spectrum between the 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequency frequencies. T-Mobile was the third highest bidder in the auction, spending $2.9 billion. Verizon Communications did not participate in the auction.

The so-called midband spectrum that was auctioned is seen as crucial to mobile operators’ deployment of the next generation of wireless service known as 5G, which promises much faster wireless service and more responsive networks. Its ability to connect more devices and offer real-time feedback is expected to usher in new advances in how we live and work, such as self-driving cars and enhanced augmented reality experiences.


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“Today’s 3.45GHz auction results demonstrate that the commission’s pivot to mid-band spectrum for 5G was the right move,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.

Midband spectrum, which is in, offers more-balanced coverage and capacity due to its ability to cover several miles of range with 5G, despite requiring more cell sites than the low-end spectrum band.

This swath of spectrum has been used exclusively by the federal military, which uses it for naval radar systems, missile control, and air traffic control. In 2020, the Trump administration and the Defense Department determined that it could be shared with commercial providers for 5G service.

The auction began in October 2021 under the Biden administration. The FCC said revenue from the auction topped $22.5 billion. Congress required a portion of the proceeds to be used to pay for the new equipment. This will ensure that existing military equipment can coexist with cell towers and other equipment used by wireless carriers when they deploy 5G service. All other auction money will go to the US Treasury.

spectrum is king

wireless carrier has been shouting to open more unused or underused air waves As the demand for mobile services increases. The FCC is working to repurpose spectrum from other industries, including satellite and TV broadcasting, to free up space for new mobile phone technologies. The agency has also looked outside commercial entities for spectrum, coordinating efforts with government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, to give commercial providers greater access to spectrum.

As a result, the wireless industry has invested more than $100 billion in obtaining these airwave licenses in recent years. The FCC is planning even more auctions in the future.

But as spectrum has been repurchased, issues of interference have been disputed. Late last year, the Federal Aviation Administration raised concerns over the use of C-band spectrum Which was auctioned in 2020, will interfere with the cockpit safety equipment on the plane. The result was a standoff between the FAA, the aviation industry, and wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon, which planned to begin using the purchased spectrum to deploy 5G service.

Earlier this month, AT&T and Verizon agreed to postpone the launch of its 5G services Using C-band spectrum as of 19 January.

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