While the 28 GHz auction is the most immediate wireless auction the FCC is focused on, the eventual auction and licensing of the 3.5 GHz spectrum in the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) band may turn out to be a bigger deal for towercos.
In general, any new spectrum is good for towercos, Vertical Bridge SVP Mergers & Acquisitions Bob Paige tells Inside Towers in an interview. However, he explains the 28 GHz millimeter wave spectrum “has relatively short propagation characteristics,” of about a mile and a half, making it mostly suitable for urban use. Carriers will like it for antennas placed on rooftops and on the sides of buildings.
Paige is more excited about a future 3.5 GHz spectrum auction and its potential for 5G use. He calls the licenses’ area size compromise offered to the FCC by the Competitive Carriers Association and CTIA, “huge” from an industry perspective and predicts it will be adopted by the Commission. “We hope they can auction it off and start deploying 3.5 GHz by the middle of next year,” he said.
Why will that auction for 5G use be a big deal? Because he expects more players will come to the table, possibly Google, Facebook, and Amazon. “I’d be surprised if Dish didn’t play, too,” said Paige.
The wider field would be good for Vertical Bridge because there would be a “greater opportunity for us to increase our tenancy.” New entrants into the market, are “good for us. Our job is to make sure when new guys come in they have a place to put their antennas.”
by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
April 30, 2018