The majority of companies that won coveted mid-band 5G spectrum in the CBRS auction have received their licenses. The FCC said Friday that it has approved long-form applications for 222 of the 255 companies that had winning bids in the auction, also known as Auction 105.
The biggest spenders in that auction were Verizon; Dish, which bid as Wetterhorn Wireless; Charter, which bid as Spectrum Wireless Holdings; Comcast, which bid as XF Wireless and Cox. Combined, those five companies represented 87% of the auction proceeds. All five companies were awarded their licenses.
The companies that won the most licenses in the CBRS auction were SAL Spectrum/ATN International, which may be better known as Atlantic Tele-Network; Commnet; AMG Technology Investment Group/Nextlink; Windstream; and XF Wireless Investment/Comcast.
Of these, AMG, Windstream and XF/Comcast appear on the FCC list of licenses awarded. The other two do not appear on the list, although it is possible that licenses were awarded to other entities that bid as SAL Spectrum/ATN and Commnet. The FCC typically allows some changes to license assignees after an auction is completed.
The CBRS auction included spectrum between 3550 and 3650 MHz. That band is considered mid-band spectrum, which many stakeholders see offering the optimum mixture of range and speeds for 5G. Licenses were for 10 MHz swaths of spectrum and were issued for individual counties.
While winners such as Verizon and Dish most likely will use their winnings for mobile service, others are likely to use it for fixed service. Nextlink, for example, is a fixed wireless provider that was one of the biggest winners in the CAF II auction, which awarded funding to cover some of the costs of providing fixed broadband service to unserved rural areas. Windstream also is expected to use its CBRS spectrum winnings for fixed wireless service.
The CBRS auction raised about $4.5 billion, a fraction of what the more recent C-band spectrum auction raised. The C-band also included mid-band spectrum at just a bit higher frequency than the CBRS band and raised over $80 billion.
Licenses in the C-band auction were for larger blocks of spectrum and larger license areas. Each license included 20 MHz of spectrum and was for a partial economic area (PEA). The overall amount of spectrum auctioned also was larger.
The price tag in the C-band auction apparently was out of reach for many would-be bidders. There were only 21 winning bids in the auction.
A complete list of companies whose CBRS licenses were awarded can be found at this link.