28 Oct This digital land rush could pit your cellular carrier against some surprising companies
Some of the biggest technology companies in America will soon need to make a choice: How deeply invested do they want to be in wireless technology?
As policymakers in Washington inch closer to launching a historic auction of wireless airwaves — the invisible frequencies that power everything from FM radio to mobile data, drones and satellite communications — these companies face a new opportunity to expand their role in America’s mobile ecosystem.
Washington policymakers have pitched the auction primarily to AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as a way they can upgrade their LTE data networks, which consumers are flocking to at a prodigious pace. Chances are these carriers will spend billions bidding on the spectrum that’s for sale. But companies outside the industry could easily disrupt those plans by competing for the valuable frequencies themselves.
Business executives and analysts are now openly speculating about who could become a spoiler in the auction. Whether it’s Amazon, Comcast or Google, surprise players from a range of industries could frustrate the cellular carriers’ ambitious expansion plans — and gain a foothold in one of the most valuable parts of the radio spectrum that’s ever been put up for sale. You see, this type of spectrum — which operates at frequencies of around 600 MHz — is especially good at going through walls and traveling long distances, making it perfect for setting up a nationwide network.
In short, you can expect that what was already going to be an intense bidding war for scarce frequencies is only going to get hotter.
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