In July, the FCC will begin an auction for Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the CBRS band. In each county, bidders will be seeking access to spectrum that won’t be disrupted by general (unlicensed) users. They can use the band already General Authorized Access (GAA).
We have tracked dozens of FCC auctions over the years, but this one is different. This is the first time that the FCC will be dealing with shared spectrum, juggling the military users, priority users, and general users. Also, this is the first time that we will see mobile operators, cable operators, WISPs, and even private enterprises bidding against each other.
Because of the large number of potential bidders, many people have come to Mobile Experts, looking for guidance.
- How much is an enterprise willing to pay for a 10 MHz channel?
- Which counties will the cable operators focus on?
- Will the mobile operators bid nationwide? Or will they focus just on cities?
- Which counties are suitable markets for FWA?
To address these questions, Mobile Experts has spent the last year developing a model, comparing the value that different bidders hold for the same spectrum resources. Each of the 3233 counties in the USA are evaluated with regard to the ROI available to each sector: mobile operators, cable operators, WISPs, neutral hosts, and enterprises all place slightly different value on the spectrum and will be targeted at different counties.
In the end, our conclusion is that the dynamics between mobile operators, cable operators, FWA, and enterprises will create some interesting dynamics in the counties that include combinations of urban, suburban, industrial, and rural areas. That’s where we might get some surprising bidding wars.
Of course, the value of the spectrum must be weighed against the ‘shared’ aspect of this spectrum, and we believe that the final prices—on average—will be lower than some of the AWS auctions of the past.
Finally, one new aspect to this auction is that we’re likely to see spectrum speculators buying up licenses with plans to sub-license the spectrum on a local level. So, this auction could be the catalyst for a new business ecosystem of spectrum wholesalers that deal with enterprise customers and other local users.
Get out the popcorn, this show will be fun to watch.