5G auction continues and breaks records

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction for spectrum licenses on the C-Band, a mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4GHz, has been going on for three weeks now, and bidding as reached a record $66.4 billion. Experts agree that mid-band frequencies are critical for 5G usability, since they can provide both improved speeds vs 4G LTE while also providing better coverage than the superfast but extremely limited millimeter wave bands used by Verizon and AT&T.

The recent bids have far exceeded even the experts’ highest forecasts. The 5G is on hold now through the holidays, but will resume Jan. 4. The bidders and their bids are secret until the auction completes, but it is almost certain that AT&T and Verizon are among the top bidders.

“Mid-band spectrum will be where 5G lives,” said Walt Piecyk, a telecom analyst for research firm LightShed Partners, adding that T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint “clearly put pressure on Verizon and AT&T” to increase their frequency holdings to better compete.