There are 57 qualified applicants for the C-Band auction, with bidding slated to begin December 8 for the highly anticipated midband spectrum that will be used to support 5G deployments.
New Street Research analysts have said that the auction could raise as much as $50 billion in bids.
Bidders will vie for licenses at 3.7-3.98 GHz in the lower portion of the band; satellite operators will shift their operators to the upper portion of the band, which extends to 4.2 GHz.
The qualified bidders list is dominated by large and small telecom companies across the country, but also includes cable companies . AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US and US Cellular are all qualified, and Dish appears to be bidding under the name Little Bear Wireless, as reported by Light Reading. Cable company Cox Communications has been okayed to bid, and Comcast and Charter Communications are reportedly bidding as a single entity under the name C&C Wireless Holding Company.
Hotel chain Starwood Holdings is qualified; the company also participated in and won two licenses in the CBRS Priority Access License auction. ATN International, bidding as SAL Spectrum, is also qualified for the C-Band auction after coming out of the PAL auction having spent about $20.4 million for 1,569 licenses in 590 counties. ATN investment group includes communications brands — Choice Wireless, Commnet and more—and renewable energy subsidiaries.
In addition to the 57 qualified applicants, 17 applications were incomplete and not qualified. Those unapproved applicants included Cable One and Viasat. Altice USA, under the name CSC Wireless, was also ultimately disqualified.
The auction, officially known as Auction 107, will kick off with two, two-hour rounds on the first day of bidding, then shift to three daily one-hour rounds.
The first tranche of C-Band spectrum is expected to be available in December 2021.