Cox Is Only Major MSO to Bid in FCC’s First 5G Spectrum Auction

Cox Communications is the only major U.S. cable operator to enter into the FCC’s first auction of spectrum devoted to next-generation 5G services.

The privately held, Atlanta-based cable operator, the third-biggest U.S. MSO, is bidding for licenses in the 28 Gigahertz auction, set for Nov. 14, along with Dish Network, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Windstream and other telecom companies.

Dish, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Windstream and Frontier Communications are among the companies bidding for 28 GHz licenses in the FCC’s so-called “millimeter-wave” auction.

Notably absent are Comcast, Charter Communications and Altice USA, which have all expressed interest in participating in telecom’s ongoing wireless convergence in some form or another.

(Lists of the auction filers can be found here.)

Related: FCC Votes to Put More Broadband Spectrum in Play

The FCC is conducting its first-ever auction of high-frequency airwaves suitable for next-generation 5G wireless services. The airwaves being auctioned exist mostly in rural areas, with the largest available market being Honolulu, according to Morgan Stanley. The auction covers about a quarter of the U.S. airwaves. 

Comcast and Charter are mostly situated in metropolitan and suburban markets, although Altice has footprint in rural regions through its Suddenlink Communications purchase.

In a May FCC filing, Charter asked the FCC to wait to open the application window for the 24-GHz band auction until the 28 GHz auction was completed.  Charter reasoned that those companies that satisfied their spectrum needs in the 28 GHz auction (aka Auction 101) might want to demure on the 24 GHz auction (Auction 102).

But the No. 2 U.S. operator seemed to indicate that it would participate in the bidding.

“Charter is particularly excited about the opportunities presented with this high-band spectrum and is exploring how to use it to deliver ultra-fast, high-capacity services to consumers in communities across the country — large and small, as well as urban, suburban and rural,” the operator said in its filing.

However, Charter and Comcast have seemed more focused on the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service band (CBRS), as well as the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, also known as the lower C-band.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress Americas event in Los Angeles last month, Charter senior vice president of wireless technology Craig Cowden said, “I do think millimeter wave has some propagation issues that will limit its effectiveness in terms of a true mobility layer.”

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!