Verizon spends big in FCC auction ahead of mid-band 5G launch

Verizon placed $1.89 billion in winning bids.

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Mariella Moon
September 3rd, 2020
In this article: Verizon, 5G, 3.5 GHz, auction, FCC, news, gear
Conceptual illustration representing the new 5G mobile data network. Some have proposed that the new fifth generation network poses a health risk from radiation levels, which could lead to cancer and other morbidities.
MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images

Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) was the biggest winner in the FCC’s recently concluded auction for licenses in the 3.5 GHz band. In its announcement, the commission has revealed that Verizon placed $1.89 billion in winning bids, followed by Dish Network (under the name Wetterhorn Wireless) with total winning bids worth $912 million. The FCC started auctioning off 70 megahertz of Priority Access Licenses in a band that’s seen as key to widespread 5G and Internet of Things deployment back in July.

When the agency announced (PDF) the auction’s conclusion last month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said it was a key part of the commission’s 5G FAST Plan and its “ongoing push to make more mid-band spectrum available for 5G.” In all, the auction reached $4.6 billion in winning bids, not just from Verizon and Dish, but also from a number of cable operators. As the Wall Street Journal notes, their participation suggests that they’re planning to offer more mobile services or that they’re working to break free from running their services on Verizon’s network.

Verizon’s rival carriers are conspicuously absent from the list of bidders, but they may just be holding out for another auction starting on December 8th. The FCC will make 280 megahertz of licenses in the C-band available for auction, giving more companies the chance to purchase the right to use the spectrum (ranging from 3.4 GHz to 4.2 GHz) for their 5G networks.

Verizon was Engadget's parent company between June 2015 and September 2021.

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