The FCC released the final C-band bidders list late last week. Fifty-seven companies qualified to bid in the auction for coveted mid-band spectrum suitable for supporting 5G services.
Although some companies plan to bid under unfamiliar names, the identities of the companies behind those names has been previously reported. On the list are all major wireless carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as some smaller wireless carriers, along with major cable companies Charter, Comcast and Cox, according to industry sources.
The C-band auction, also known as Auction 107 or the 3.7 GHz auction, is scheduled to start next month. It will award licenses by partial economic area and each license will include 20 MHz of spectrum.
Mid-band spectrum is widely seen as offering the optimum mix of coverage and bandwidth, and the C-band will be particularly attractive to those that won spectrum in the CBRS auction, as the two bands are adjacent and providers may be able to combine spectrum for a further capacity or speed boost.
Final C-Band Bidders List
Some bidders are likely to use any spectrum winnings for mobile use, while others are more likely to use it for fixed wireless. And some – including the mobile carriers and the cable companies — may use the spectrum for mobile use in more urban areas and for fixed wireless in more rural areas.
The fixed wireless industry traditionally has been comprised of a large number of small companies, but that is changing. Two fixed wireless internet service providers (WISPs) on the final C-band bidders list are W.A.T.C.H. TV Company and Wisper ISP, both of whom were big winners in the 2018 Connect America Fund auction, which awarded money for rural broadband deployments.
Some of the companies on the final list previously submitted incomplete applications but have resolved the problems with those applications and are now approved to bid. Of nearly 75 entities in total that initially applied to bid, 17 failed to resolve problems with their applications and have been deemed not qualified to bid.
Three notable names on the list of unqualified bidders: CSC Wireless, which reportedly would have been a bidding entity for Altice; FiberLight and Viasat.
It was surprising to see that satellite operator Viasat was considering participation in the auction when the company appeared on the initial bidder list last month, so perhaps it’s not surprising to see the company essentially drop out.