Rural operators are encouraged by upcoming 2.5 GHz auction

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The Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming 2.5 GHz spectrum auction is generating some excitement among smaller rural US operators because of the FCC’s decision to offer flexible-use, county-based overlay licenses. The auction, which will start July 29, will be for licenses in the 2.5 GHz band where no one currently owns the spectrum. Top executives at several smaller operators have said that they were encouraged by the FCC’s format for Auction 108 because it will be amenable to rural operators. “We like this auction because it’s rural focused,” said Brighid Riordan, CEO of Cellcom, a Wisconsin-based operator. “When we look at auctions, and they’re for the large PEAs [partial economic areas], they tend to scoop in some areas that everybody wants,” she added. “That makes the prices go up.” For example, during the C-Band auction, the FCC issued PEA licenses, each covering fairly large areas and often including a larger market that was appealing to the big wireless operators. Appalachian Wireless CEO Allen Gillum agreed with Riordan, adding that during previous spectrum auctions, his company had to invest a lot of money to buy spectrum licenses that included areas outside its footprint. Gillum said that his company is planning to participate in the upcoming auction. “We will participate in it on a county-by-county basis.” T-Mobile's Steve Sharkey was very complimentary of the FCC’s auction rules established for the 2.5 GHz auction. The company is interested in Auction 108 because it already owns or leases much of the 2.5 GHz spectrum in the US and wants to fill in the gaps in its coverage.

Rural operators encouraged by upcoming 2.5 GHz auction