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Worst of the Week: 600 MHz auction ends, as does my time at RCR Wireless News

Dan Meyer does the worst job breaking down the 600 MHz incentive auction results and says goodbye to RCR Wireless News in his last WOTW column.

Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at RCRWireless.com to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!

Man, what an exciting few days.

First, the Federal Communications Commission’s innovative 600 MHz incentive auction finally came to an end with the government agency releasing the names of license winners.

And second, this is my last day at RCR Wireless News and last “Worst of the Week” column.

But, back to the first point first.

After more than one year, we learned that T-Mobile US was indeed very hungry for low-band spectrum; that Dish Network can’t get enough spectrum; and that Verizon Communications can indeed turn down spectrum.

In total, winner bidders put up more than $19.8 billion for licenses, with the top three bidders – T-Mobile US, Dish Network and Comcast – accounting for 80% of the total. So, it was a bit top heavy and missing the usual cast of characters that have historically driven spectrum auctions.

In attempting to parse out the results, this is what I have managed to extract from the results:

–T-Mobile US remains focused on closing any perceived coverage gaps to its larger rivals and was really the only operator in a position to financially make such a large commitment.

–Dish Network continues to throw billions of dollars at spectrum knowing it’s a safe place to house money and provides the company at the seat of the table in terms of the evolution of lucrative domestic market.

–Comcast is basically a smaller version of Dish Network in terms of its plans and just had some money burning a hole in its pocket.

–AT&T bid just enough (approximately $1 billion) to keep regulators happy in light of its other ongoing activities, and filled in some soft spots in terms of low-band spectrum.

–Verizon Communications is convinced technological advancements will allow it to squeeze more from its current spectrum holdings, and is confident it will be able to tap unlicensed and higher spectrum bands in order to serve customers.

–Sprint can’t wait for April 27, when the “quiet” period connected with auction participants ends.

–$19.8 billion is apparently not as much as I thought it was.

While there has been question as to the success or failure of the incentive auction process, overall I have to give full credit to the FCC for pulling off what has for me been a glass case of emotion.

Would television broadcasters liked to have made a few more tens of billions of dollars for spectrum they received for free? Probably.

But, it appears the amount paid by winners should not handcuff their ability to in most cases (cough … cough … Dish … cough) put the spectrum to work as soon as it’s available. And to that I say we are all winners.

As to the second point, this is indeed my last day at RCR Wireless News and my last “WOTW” column.

After some 17 years, I am heading off for a new adventure that I hope will provide me with another 17 years of the fun and inspiration. I will still be covering the telecommunications industry, but with more of a central focus from a “softer” perspective and – of course – under a new publication.

I have to admit, the past few days have been a bit odd in realizing I will not be throwing in “RCR Wireless News” when answering all phone calls, which might actually be a relief to friends and family that call my personal phone. But, I am also looking forward to a new challenge that I can already feel is re-igniting my passion in writing.

Due to my incredible admiration and debt to the RCR Wireless News brand and organization, I will not get into where I am going, but feel free to check my Twitter and LinkedIn feeds next week for news.

More importantly for this venue is that this will be my last “WOTW” column, and thus my use of this column to say I am leaving RCR Wireless News. I can only guess at the reaction of those that actually read this column, but for better or worse this has been one of the highlights from my time at RCR Wireless News.

I have become somewhat connected to this column over the past several years, though I do need to give full credit to my former colleague and part-time doppelganger Mike Dano for its creation. It happened too long ago to remember how the idea for this all came together, but if memory serves correct, Dano thought it would be hilarious to have a weekly column where we could call out the industry’s insanity and somehow “Worst of the Week” seemed like the best title for that column.

(It should also be noted that during this time, Dano thought it was a good idea to own a BlackBerry Pearl, so there’s that.)

This column has always been my biggest challenge due to how smart I know our readers are. It’s difficult to take a light-hearted look at all the “nutty” stuff that happens in this industry when you know you will get called on it if you go too far over the line in trying to be funny at the expense of the truth. I hope I have managed to not embarrass myself too much in this regard.

As we have noted at the top of all of these columns, this was always a space in which we could “rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way.” Some of you were able to share that light-hearted view and let us know, while others never seemed to grasp the concept that some stuff needed to be called out and also let us know. I was always good with the commentary either way and always appreciated it all.

I do want to leave one final note before removing my RCR badge and that is to answer the second-most often asked question I have received during my time at RCR Wireless News:

Q: What does “RCR” stand for?
A: Radio Communications Report.

(The most often-asked question: Aren’t you Mike Dano?)

Be safe everyone, remember not to take all of this too seriously and hopefully see you all soon.

Stones are good, but gotta leave with some DK

I welcome your comments. Please send me an e-mail at dmeyer@rcrwireless.com.

Bored? Why not follow me on Twitter.

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