The top 10 owners of 600 MHz spectrum licenses

Coverage Type: 

The Federal Communications Commission's 600 MHz incentive auction of TV broadcasters’ unwanted spectrum was a noteworthy event. It was the culmination of years of work by officials at the FCC—it initially arose from the National Broadband Plan in 2010—and it featured “beachfront” low-band spectrum ideal for long-distance connections. Further, the auction itself sported a unique “reverse” auction that paid TV broadcasters for their unwanted spectrum licenses, and then made that spectrum available to wireless carriers and others through a traditional “forward” auction.

The 600 MHz auction ended in 2017, raising a total of almost $20 billion in winning bids. T-Mobile walked away with the lion’s share of those licenses and an $8 billion bill. And T-Mobile has wasted no time deploying those licenses. So far Mobile has switched on commercial 600 MHz LTE service in 1,500 cities and towns in 37 states and Puerto Rico. To do so, the carrier said it has had to enter 76 different agreements with TV broadcasters to clear the spectrum for cellular use. T-Mobile said it currently offers 21 devices compatible with 600 MHz, including the latest generation of iPhones. 

Other 600 MHz auction winners haven’t been nearly as active. AT&T sold all of its 600 MHz holdings through separate transactions with Columbia Capital and Tstar. Dish has argued it can’t deploy its 600 MHz holdings because much of the spectrum hasn’t yet been cleared by TV broadcasters. Comcast executives haven’t discussed their 600 MHz plans, nor have US Cellular executives.

Checking in on the top 10 owners of 600 MHz spectrum licenses