Editor’s Corner—600 MHz incentive auction ‘extravaganza’ ends with a whimper

Fierce Wireless – Remember when former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler promised a “spectrum extravaganza” with the agency’s incentive auction of TV broadcasters’ unwanted 600 MHz spectrum licenses? Well it turns out that T-Mobile is now the only major nationwide wireless carrier that’s actually using those licenses.

Sprint never participated in the auction, Verizon said it would participate but then ended up not buying anything and AT&T just inked a deal to sell off all of its remaining 600 MHz licenses.

That’s a pretty mediocre ending to a major effort by American regulators to free up more spectrum to carriers that were arguing that there wasn’t enough spectrum to meet demand, and that wireless networks could slow to a crawl as a result. The incentive auction largely sprang from Congress’ National Broadband Plan in 2010, which tasked the FCC with conducting a first-of-its-kind of auction that paid TV broadcasters to relinquish their 600 MHz licenses so that wireless carriers and others could buy them in an auction.

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