FCC Grants First AWS-3 Licenses

The FCC has approved its first batch of wireless licenses from the AWS-3 auction, which drew close to $45 billion in bids and helped relieve the financial pressure on the broadcast incentive auction.

The vast majority of the granted licenses were for AT&T, Verizon (Cellco) and T-Mobile.

The FCC put out the long-form applications for comment several weeks ago. None of the licenses had been challenged.

Not in that batch were the licenses of the companies majority owned by Dish. Those have drawn criticism and opposition, at least to those companies' application for billions in designated entity discounts that are meant to encourage participation by small businesses.

An FCC spokesperson confirmed that this is the first of several batches of licenses, and that the others, including Dish's, are still "under review."

"Thanks to the FCC license grants today for AWS-3 spectrum, T-Mobile now has additional bandwidth in key markets that will strengthen our data network even more for our customers," said T-Mobile in a statement [all of T-Mobile's winning bids were granted in this first batch].

"Now we are on to the next challenge — winning low-band spectrum in the auction next year. That will improve our service to customers everywhere, whether they are deep inside an urban office building or alongside a road in rural America."

In fact the company said the broadcast incentive auction would be crucial to its business, and took the opportunity to renew its call for the FCC to set aside more low band spectrum for competitors to AT&T and Verizon, who already together have more than two-thirds of that spectrum.

"The next auction will make or break the future of wireless choice," the company said. "That's why T-Mobile and other competitive carriers will continue to press the FCC to reject AT&T and Verizon's attempts to delay the next auction and stack the bidding rules in their favor. By upping the spectrum reserved for competitive carriers to 40 MHz, the FCC can make sure consumers, and not the dominant carriers, will see the greatest benefit from this historic auction."

T-Mobile has argued that the two dominant carriers are trying to corner the market on low-band.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.