As CBRS Auction Shapes Broadband Landscape Should Rural Operators Make a Bid?

By Jeff Johnston

June 16, 2020

Key Points

  • The upcoming Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) auction will enable new market entrants and smaller and rural operators to build carrier-grade networks at very attractive costs. This could lead to a more fragmented industry with hundreds of new networks.
  • The CBRS band includes licensed and unlicensed spectrum and the decision to acquire spectrum is a complicated one for rural operators.
  • The auction is expected to be very competitive in urban and suburban markets, but county-level licenses may offer cost-effective opportunities for smaller operators to acquire spectrum in rural markets.
  • Using either licensed or unlicensed portions of the CBRS band includes paying fees to and relying on a Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrator. Operators should consider long-term implications when negotiating these agreements.
  • Given that market entry barriers are expected to come down, incumbent broadband operators could see increased competition from new business models.

Read the Report


Stay ahead of the game in your field. Subscribe today.

Get CoBank's industry-leading Knowledge Exchange research reports delivered straight to your inbox as soon as they're released.

Have a comment or question about these reports?

Contact CoBank's Knowledge Exchange team to ask questions, engage with analysts or receive additional information.