T-Mobile and Comcast will come out as the top two bidders in the Federal Communications Commission’s auction of radio spectrum. Hodulik is projecting that T-Mobile will be spending between $8 billion to $10 billion in order to acquire about 30 MHz of airwaves. As for Comcast, the cable TV company is expected to spend between $5 billion to $6 billion to get 20 MHz of spectrum. Together, T-Mobile and Comcast will be taking three-fourths of all the auctioned spectrum. Hodulik also predicts that Verizon, AT&T, and Dish Network will be grabbing 5 MHz of airwaves each in the auction.
The FCC will be announcing the results of the auction by mid-April. In February earlier this year, the agency had disclosed that bids topped $19.6 billion.
Hodulik pointed out how T-Mobile has been historically less competitive in rural markets in the United States. But if the major wireless carrier manages to acquire 30 MHz of low-band airwaves from the auction, it should be able to close the performance gap with the leaders and likely increase the level of competition across America. UBS also says that industry leaders Verizon and AT&T were not likely to bid aggressively. Last Thursday, AT&T was named the official winner of the FirstNet contract for building a nationwide mobile public safety network.
As for Comcast, it makes no secret of its plans to start offering mobile services before the end of this year, leveraging an MVNO agreement it had struck with Verizon. Hodulik, however, predicts that the cable TV company will likely not make an aggressive move to go into the wireless business until the level of competition abates, possibly through industry consolidation.
It was in late 2011 that Comcast, as well as Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, sold airwaves worth $3.6 billion to Verizon. According to some industry watchers, Comcast could leverage the new airwaves it acquired in order to renegotiate its MVNO agreement with Verizon.