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27 October 2020

FCC releases long list of potential bidders for C-band auction

By Wireless Watch Staff

The FCC has released the list of organizations which have registered interest in bidding in the upcoming C-band spectrum auction, Auction 107.

As always in US procedures, the identity of many companies is hidden behind a ‘bidding entity’. For instance, one called ‘C&C Wireless Holding Company’ is thought to be a 50:50 joint venture between Comcast and Charter, the two leading cablecos, which are cooperating on mobile services deployment.

Analysts at New Street told clients that, although the partners had bid separately in the recent CBRS auction, they might be working together this time because “the licence sizes for C-Band are far larger than CBRS; they don’t overlap perfectly with cable franchises. By bidding together, the companies can avoid bidding against each other for licences that touch both of their footprints. It also isn’t surprising given that they have a JV to develop wireless together.”

Cablecos have sometimes banded together in the past to increase their bidding power against the big operators. In 2006, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable formed an entity called SpectrumCo to bid in the AWS (1.7 GHz/2.1 GHz) auction, and subsequently partnered with Sprint, though they eventually sold that spectrum on to Verizon in 2011 in return for MVNO deals.

There are over 70 potential bidders listed, with 51 in the telecoms category including the big three MNOs, Dish and US Cellular; plus four cablecos (Comcast, Charter, Altice and Cox), three satellite players (Viasat, Globalstar and Xplornet), and 16 others, including Columbia Capital and Radius Capital Partners. There does not appear to be any participation by webscalers or cloud providers.