T-Mobile buys nearly all the auctioned US 2.5 GHz spectrum

The recent US 2.5 GHz spectrum auction didn’t bring in much money by historical standards, probably because there was only one significant participant.

Over 8,000 country-based licenses, covering mostly rural parts of the US, were on offer and T-Mobile won 7,156 of the 7,872 that were sold – around 91%. Of the remaining winners, over three quarters of them were described in the FCC announcement as small businesses or as entities serving rural communities.

TMUS’s dominance of this auction doesn’t come as any great surprise since it’s the only major American MNO to have already put some effort into that band. In fact, it seems safe to assume its competitors only took part to try to keep TMUS honest and make sure it didn’t get too much of a bargain. If so, they seem to have failed, as the $427 million trousered by the government is well below even the lowest analyst expectations.

In an amusing potential twist, Light Reading reports that Verizon may have ended up winning $1.5 million worth of 2.5 GHz spectrum by accident. Since the spectrum is useless to Verizon, the assumption is that it tried to get cute by bidding on some licenses on the assumption that TMUS would be forced to come back with a higher one. Verizon seems to have had its bluff called a few to times, which must have lead to awkward internal discussions.

Here are the tables summarising the top five bidders:


Bidder Total Gross Winning Bids
T-Mobile License LLC $304,325,290
PTI Pacifica Inc. $17,690,000
TeleGuam Holdings, LLC $16,565,000
Evergy Kansas Central $12,744,400
Cellular South Licenses, LLC $11,861,300


Bidder Number of Licenses Won
T-Mobile License LLC 7,156
North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation 107
Evergy Kansas Central 54
LICT Wireless Broadband Company, LLC 46
Broadband One of the Midwest, Inc. 42


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