AT&T was the winning bidder for 39 GHz spectrum licenses in the FCC’s recent Spectrum Frontiers auction (auction 103), which granted licenses for spectrum at 37, 39 and 47 GHz. AT&T’s licenses cover more than 99 percent of the U.S. population.
AT&T said it improved its 39 GHz spectrum holdings to 786 MHz, an increase of 102 percent. Added to its 24 GHz spectrum, AT&T’s average mmWave spectrum has increased to more than 1.04 GHz nationwide.
“The large, contiguous block of spectrum we won in auction 103 will be important to maintaining our 5G leadership across the industry,” said Scott Mair, president at AT&T Technology & Operations. “This win boosts our already strong spectrum position.”
AT&T said its existing spectrum allowed the company to add more coverage last year than any other wireless provider, and the new spectrum will continue the progress.
AT&T offers sub-6 GHz 5G service in 100 markets, accessible using the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G, the Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup and the LG V60 ThinQ 5G smartphones. The company’s 5G+ service, which uses mmWave spectrum, is being deployed in parts of 35 cities.
Prior to the auction, AT&T had acquired 379 MHz of 39 GHz spectrum when it purchased FiberTower for $207 million in early 2018. The FiberTower licenses were exchanged for FCC vouchers before the auction, which were converted to licenses AT&T won in 411 partial economic areas.
AT&T spent some $2.4 billion in the auction, $1.2 billion subtracting the value of the vouchers. The value of the FCC-issued vouchers was determined by the auction price for the PEAs where the pre-auction licenses were held.