Auction 101 and What It Means to Carriers

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With the mmWave Spectrum Auction #101 and #102 in the history books, Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche thought it an appropriate time to look at where the market stands with the mmWave spectrum landscape.

“While we will not know the results of the winners for a few more weeks,” Fritzsche said, “the bottom line is while VZ most definitely has a mmWave ‘head start’, there is much mmWave spectrum which is to be available for others to catch up.” She said VZ has five times the mmWave spectrum as T and almost 11 times more than TMUS in the top 50 most populated BTAs.   

“Not only does VZ own more mmWave spectrum in absolute,” she said, “but the average depth of spectrum ownership is also notable. Specifically, VZ has +1,200 MHz of mmWave spectrum covering +187MM POPs (or 60% of the U.S.). And (importantly) neither Auction 101 nor Auction 102 allows a clear path for others to catch up with VZ in key metro areas.”

Fritzsche said the mmWave spectrum “dark horse” could be AT&T, which she fully expects to be opportunistic (in a balance sheet constructive way!).

There is plenty of mmWave spectrum to go around according to Fritzsche, “especially as we look at what is coming down the pike!”

Auction 103 is scheduled to commence in December 2019, and will include 3.4 GHz of spectrum in the 37/39/47 GHz bands. To put this in perspective, the spectrum which is to be auctioned off in Auction 103 is +2.2 times what was auctioned in Auctions 101 and 102 combined.

“In Auction 103 there are unique circumstances which may be used in carriers’ favor based on a recent filing from the FCC,” Fritzsche said.

June 3, 2019

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