back to article America's 5G auctions will make someone a fortune – but for whom exactly, and who pays?

It’s amazing how a couple of billion dollars focuses the mind. This week, Congress in the US held a second hearing about an important ongoing issue when it comes to the build-out and adoption of next-generation 5G mobile broadband: namely, where the radio frequencies and bandwidth are going to come from to make it work. The …

  1. IceC0ld Silver badge

    someone is going to make a fortune – but whom

    well. this is America

    so it will be a long line of lawyers and associated hangers on and related groups

    at the VERY bottom, will be the poor old US taxpayer, who everyone seems to think of as unimportant, merely there to be sold things to :o(

  2. sbt Silver badge

    Who pays?

    Ultimately the consumer, through higher charges. It's an indirect tax, and add on the RoI for the financiers providing the debt to purchase the spectrum. The goal should be the most efficient allocation of spectrum, not the maximum government windfall, where 'efficient' means consumers in each market get a quality service at sustainable (not super-profit) costs.

    There are too many monopolistic biases in telecommunications to run an unregulated market. If only the FCC* were competent enough to manage it.

    * The middle C stands for 'captured'.

    1. maffski

      Re: Who pays?

      Yes the consumer will be the one paying, but the very fact that it becomes value driven (the more people are willing to pay for the service the more of the bandwidth we can buy) will cause a more efficient allocation of resources and a correspondingly greater value to the consumers then if it had been left to the tragedy of the commons.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    200 MHz of spectrum at 3.5 GHz sounds like it's going to be fast but suffer from line-of-sight issues. Don't we have enough of those already? It seems like a waste of taxpayer/customer money for telcos to spend billions of dollars on exclusive slices of a high-attenuation band that naturally doesn't have interference.

    The Big Orange One should be incoherently happy to have one more US LTE band that is not supported by generic Chinese phones.

  4. DougS Silver badge

    Here's a crazy idea

    How about requiring the telcos to first build up 5G capacity using the huge swathes of bandwidth already available to them, rather than pulling bandwidth away from incumbent users for them to bid on not to use but to hope it goes up in value someday? If they do that and we can see even after it is all used up they will still need more, then we can think about auctioning off some of the C band.

  5. Timo

    Life or death for satellite operators

    The lives of a few satellite companies hangs in the balance of this decision. Intelsat, for example, is virtually bankrupt on paper but still carries a market value based on.the anticipated value of their C-band spectrum. And that market value (stock price) fluctuates wildly with speculation about this upcoming auction.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Life or death for satellite operators

      Considering no one paid the FCC for C band spectrum allowing private companies to treat it as an asset they own and can sell to a business for a different purpose is ridiculous, IMHO.

      If they want to reallocate spectrum, they do it like they did TV spectrum. The FCC sells it and collects all the revenue, then a small portion of that revenue is provided to the incumbent users to pay their costs for vacating it (buying new encoders for their customers to use more efficient HEVC compression in the case of C band, buying new emitters on different channel numbers in the case of TV)

      If this causes Intelsat to go bankrupt, too bad for them. They obviously aren't a viable business if they have a negative net worth and can only claim positive net worth based on the value of C band spectrum the government provided for free.

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