Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wireless Spectrum Showdown USA

Who has it?

Verizon and AT&T are the biggest commercial spectrum owners. T-Mobile and Sprint are just behind. There are other companies that own small slices, but these slices seem to be getting sold off to the larger carriers (i.e. Cox to VZ). Like it or not, we are headed towards a spectrum monopoly regardless of the AT&T / T-Mobile fallout.

Who wants it?

All the carriers and probably Google.

Who has some to spare?

Based on the way everyone is hoarding it - nobody except Uncle Sam. With the roll out of 4G, the increasing number of 3G & 4G enabled tablets & PCs, and the growth of the smartphones market share, I'd say that nobody has much to spare.

Who has the Cash? (perhaps the most relevant question..)

Certainly Verizon and AT&T. Google is also pretty flush these days. Sprint & T-Mobile are questionable given the going rate (and Sprint needs it the most).

I could also see someone coming out of the shadows if another auction is held. Perhaps a large investment company like Cerberus Capital would buy and hold spectrum for resale at a later date. Alternately Carlos Slim or another foreign telco may want to get into the US Cellular game...

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