Cox the Only Major Cable Operator to Bid in FCC’s First 5G Spectrum Auction - Multichannel
Comcast, Charter and Alice USA are no-shows at agency’s first ‘millimeter wave’ 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 MSO in the U.S., is bidding for licenses in the 24 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 the presence of 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 market of available airwaves 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 market, 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 28GHz 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 24GHz 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 ultrafast, 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, Craig Cowden, senior VP of wireless technology at Charter, remarked, “I do think millimeter wave has some propagation issues that will limit its effectiveness in terms of a true mobility layer.”

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