Underdogs Prevail at FCC Incentive Auction

Underdogs Prevail at FCC Incentive Auction


T-Mobile made headlines last Friday for winning 45% of all low-band spectrum sold during the Federal Communications Commissions’ Broadcast Incentive Auction. While the company made its largest ever investment, to the tune of $7.99 billion for 31 MHz of spectrum nationwide, the Un-Carrier wasn’t the only non-traditional player to win big at this auction.

New Level, LLC, a 100% minority controlled fund run by telecommunications veteran David Grain, won 26 licenses valued at $348.9 million. New Level is one of 50 winning bidders that received a slice of the 70 MHz of licensed spectrum auctioned off from broadcasters who agreed to relinquish some or all of their holdings. This was the largest mobile broadband auction of spectrum below 1GHz in FCC history. Of the 50 winning bidders, 20 represented rural interests and another 20 were small businesses. Competition and diversity were advanced in profound ways during this auction, and only time will tell how these recent results will shape the communications industry in the years ahead.

New Level, which was the third ranking small business winner was able to apply a 15% bidding credit, resulting in an adjusted payment of $296.5M, for its winnings because of its status as a Designated Entity. In total, the auction raised $19.8 billion, $7.3 billion of which will go toward the national debt.

“For its part, the FCC says that consumers are the biggest winners of all, especially due to the expanded competition that could evolve out of the auction results,” according to CED Magazine.  “The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says. “Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace.”