Analyst Note| Michael Hodel, CFA |
Bidding in the FCC’s C-Band spectrum auction quickly pushed far past reasonable levels this week, with gross bids roughly tripling since Dec. 18 to reach nearly $70 billion. As a result, bidding has already exceeded 15 times the amount spent at the CBRS auction last summer despite the C-Band auction offering only four times as much capacity albeit with more flexible operating conditions. Heading into the auction, conventional thinking, including ours, held that Verizon would dominate to augment its mid-band spectrum holdings, with AT&T also looking to add to its holdings. A host of other bidders are now involved, though, including T-Mobile, Dish Network, cable companies Comcast and Charter (bidding jointly), and investments funds. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to which actors have been driving prices higher and who will ultimately end up holding the bag. Bidding is paused for holiday break until Jan. 4 and may still run for some time before winners are announced. Meanwhile, we raise our expectations for the amounts Verizon and AT&T will spend and cut our fair value estimates to $57 from $59 and $36 from $37, respectively.