The Crucial Role of Wireless Spectrum in The Oil and Gas Industry

By Megan Finch

The oil and gas industry, driven by efficiency, safety, and environmental responsibility, has strategically adopted wireless technologies, particularly those leveraging licensed spectrum. The oil and gas facilities are complicated, so they need communication that goes beyond normal limits. In far-off places, flexible wireless tech for sensors is essential. This helps with instant monitoring and control without being limited by wired setups. Furthermore, wireless solutions are a cost-effective choice in large oil and gas facilities. They avoid the high deployment and maintenance costs linked with wired infrastructure. In addition, given the industry’s demand for continuous and uninterrupted connectivity, wireless technologies including licensed spectrum solutions ensure seamless communication and outperform traditional Wi-Fi networks.

Selecting the best spectrum solution to serve wireless technologies is critical, especially for applications like methane monitoring. Licensed spectrum, encompassing both narrowband and broadband frequencies, ensures dedicated and interference-free communication—essential for precise and reliable data transmission required by the oil and gas industry.  

As methane is an invisible gas, it’s hard to determine how much gas is leaking and where it’s coming from specifically. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ),

“A team of scientists from Harvard University, Boston University, NOAA, and the Environmental Defense Fund, used measurements of methane and ethane concentrations in the air over Boston to track emissions from 2012 to 2020. The scientists found natural gas emissions were approximately six times higher than inventory estimates, and more than half of emissions may be leaks from so-called end uses, such as compression stations and meters, along with boilers, furnaces and other appliances, rather than from pipelines.” [1]

Wireless sensors revolutionize methane leak detection, responding to an urgent global issue. In 2012, 3.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas escaped into the atmosphere, resulting in a $30 billion revenue loss. [2]  Due to the substantial methane contribution from oil, gas, and coal operations, a organization’s methane report highlights the significance of real-time tracking for predicting and preventing emissions.[3] Real-time tracking minimizes the risk of methane hazards, including asphyxiation at high, dangerous methane levels, through continuous environmental monitoring and timely alerts.[4]

Moreover, addressing the challenges posed by methane leaks requires not only a robust spectrum solution but can include a comprehensive approach. This can include monitoring many types of emissions and tracking the safety of employees. One example is Private LTE, as demonstrated by the Cradlepoint NetCloud Service with CBRS-Compatible Routers, to enhance safety and communication in large oil and gas refineries. This Private LTE enhances safety in large oil and gas refineries with a reliable wireless local area network (LAN). [5]

Integrating licensed spectrum technology strategically facilitates real-time tracking, accurate data reporting, and sustainability goals. As businesses strive to reduce methane emissions, the marriage of advanced sensor technology and industry commitment holds the key to building a more sustainable future.

Integrating licensed spectrum technology into wireless methane monitoring not only addresses methane leaks in the oil and gas industry but aligns seamlessly with efficiency, safety, and environmental responsibility goals. The presented wireless solutions effectively address challenges in remote and challenging terrains, providing a cost-effective alternative to conventional wired infrastructure and highlighting the industry’s dedication to uninterrupted connectivity.






The Next Generation of Water Treatment: How Wireless Sensors Can Save Time, Money and CO2

By Megan Finch

Water treatment facilities are essential for providing safe drinking water to people worldwide. However, traditional methods of monitoring water quality can be costly. Fortunately, advances in technology have made it possible to optimize water treatment and the water tracking processes using wireless sensors.

Wireless sensors can provide real-time data on water quality and usage, allowing treatment facilities to quickly identify and address issues before they become major problems. In addition, the use of wireless sensors can reduce the need for manual labor, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Many companies are adding sensors to their applications. One such organization, the Pennsylvania Water Authority, added remotely managed capabilities. According to “Jason Orsini, Findlay Township Municipal Authority’s General Manager, “This technology allows us to know of any abnormalities within our 75 miles of waterline every day, whereas before with a lift and shift system we may not know of a leak for anywhere up to 35 days.”’ [i]

Furthermore, wireless sensors can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by optimizing energy consumption in many organizations. By monitoring energy usage, facilities can identify areas where energy is being wasted and implement changes to reduce their carbon footprint. Retail giant Costco has saved money and energy by adding sensors to their retail locations. According to one article, “The pilot generated 22% savings in water bills, and the technology was later expanded to all of Costco’s U.S. stores.” [ii]

By providing real-time data, operators can make informed decisions about when to perform maintenance or replace equipment, resulting in reduced downtime and increased productivity. This can ultimately lead to cost savings and improved customer satisfaction.

However, these wireless IoT applications need to run on a wireless network. At Select Spectrum we recommend and help organizations acquire licensed wireless spectrum. Licensed wireless spectrum is an excellent choice for water treatment sensors due to its reliability, security, and potential to handle large amounts of data depending on the frequency. By using licensed spectrum, water treatment facilities can ensure that their sensors are operating on a stable and secure network, which is essential for maintaining accurate and timely data on water quality. Furthermore, licensed spectrum is highly regulated, which ensures protection of your wireless asset. Overall, licensed wireless spectrum is an ideal choice for water treatment sensors, and its use should be encouraged in the industry.

In conclusion, the water treatment industry can greatly benefit from the use of wireless sensors. By reducing water loss, energy consumption, and downtime, facilities can save time, money and reduce their carbon footprint. As we continue to face global challenges related to climate change and resource scarcity, it is important that we embrace new technologies to optimize our processes and protect our planet. Visit or to learn more about how wireless sensors can revolutionize the water treatment industry.



4 Reasons to List Your Spectrum with Select Spectrum

By: Megan Finch

  1. Experienced Sales Team
    Select Spectrum has been brokering spectrum license transactions for over a decade and has sold/leased a total of over $500 Million of spectrum to buyers across a variety of industries. Our firm’s management is led by telecommunications, engineering, and sales professionals. We not only ensure our clients are obtaining the highest possible value for their assets, but we also take the stress out of selling a niche asset. In most cases, we work on a contingent-success basis only, putting customer service first with a dedicated listing agent in your corner.

  2. Robust Marketing Strategies
    Select Spectrum possesses proprietary tools and resources to position your organization to obtain max-value for held spectrum assets. Our proven secondary market platforms make it easy for buyers to identify your organization’s spectrum and to efficiently purchase or lease the listed spectrum.

    We market your spectrum online, in-person and directly to our industry contacts and our clients looking to buy spectrum. We exhibit and present spectrum at multiple industry events and trade shows. We help our clients develop new applications for their spectrum and utilize our relationship with equipment manufactures to increase awareness of value of our client’s spectrum and promote the value of producing and selling equipment for that spectrum band.

    Our proven marketing strategies will result in high visibility for your spectrum listing within the wireless community.
  1. Industry Relationships
    A wide variety of industries utilize licensed spectrum assets for communication requirements – electric utilities, rail line operators, energy exploration firms, Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), rural telephone companies, etc. – not only mobile carriers. Select Spectrum is well positioned within this ecosystem to leverage relationships with leaders across a diverse set of verticals and generate demand for licensed spectrum assets among multiple buyers.

  2. An Honest Broker
    Most importantly, it is critical to have an honest and transparent representative. Select Spectrum prides itself on its reputation as an honest broker, providing essential trust both in communication with our clients and also our ecosystem of partners and prospective buyers.

Contact Select Spectrum today for a free consultation (571) 287-8720

How Wireless Monitoring is Modernizing the Oil & Gas Industry

by: Jonathan Cogwell

In the Oil and Gas field many technical advancements have been made in the industry. Wireless Sensors that are connected to wireless networks are available for many applications. These networks are called Wireless sensor networks.

Wireless sensor networks (WSN), defined as a self-configured and infrastructure-less system to monitor physical or environmental conditions, have become crucial to the oil and gas, energy exploration, and petrochemical industries. In the Oil & Gas sector, potential damages or impairments are directly connected not only to the safety of valuable assets, but to human operators as well. By providing licensed wireless networks that remotely control and manage networks, these standards offer a cost-efficient and safer alternative to traditional wired field instruments.

WSNs are a promising innovation that resolve the critical challenges of pipeline condition, corrosion, integrity monitoring, as well as other related problems. Consisting of interconnected sensor nodes that communicate wirelessly to collect data about the surrounding environment, WSNs allow facilities to detect and report events immediately when they occur. 

The data gathered by Wireless Sensor devices is where oil and gas facilities really benefit. These devices enable new insights into plant operation and innovative solutions that aid the oil and gas industry in:

1.            Improving platform safety

2.            Optimizing operations

3.            Preventing errors

4.            Reducing operating costs

Additionally, WSN technology can efficiently manage all equipment used in the three sectors of oil and gas fields (upstream, midstream, and downstream).

This includes:

1.            Pipelines

2.            Storage tanks

3.            Turbines

4.            Well heads

5.            Plunger heads

6.            Compressors

7.            Generators

Even with the existence of common obstacles like extreme weather demands, adverse terrains, and remote locations, WSNs can still function properly. Plus, they can save a lot on wiring costs because sensors like PIR detectors are relatively cheaper than wires.

Most importantly, it’s crucial for oil and gas facilities to detect and monitor anomalous events like leakage, corrosion, sabotage, and oil and gas theft in a timely manner, which prevents environmental hazards as well as financial losses.  WSN allow for many types of monitoring including:

1.            Remote Monitoring

The WSN solution provides remote monitoring capabilities for oil and gas companies to meet technology, regulatory, and production demands.  WSN remote monitoring technologies provide better and more real-time communication to improve productivity, refinery processes, and security.

2.            Condition Monitoring & Maintenance

Monitoring the condition of components, also called fault diagnosis, can be divided into component fault diagnosis and system fault diagnosis. Through sensor measurements and careful monitoring of system components, facilities can estimate the status of every component. With real-time monitoring, sensors can detect vibration, temperature heat, dissolved gas, electromagnetic properties, power consumption, performance, etc. to predict when a component might fail. For oil and gas companies, this will limit downtime, repair costs, damage, and potential dangers.

3.            Hydrogen Sulfide Monitoring

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S ) is an extremely toxic, colorless, flammable gas that is heavier than air and soluble in water and can cause shock, convulsions, coma, and death at high levels. During oil exploration and refinery processes, H2S is produced as a product or by-product and causes health and corrosion problems. H2S monitoring can be helpful not only to detect a leak but also to determine where the leak came from.

4.            Production Performance

With the appropriate data collected from a wireless sensor network, an oil and gas company can see if its facility is operating normally or abnormally. They can also use the network to analyze optimal load flow, unit commitment, and economic dispatch. By realizing and reacting to certain characteristics and patterns in operation data, facilities can optimize plant safety, production, turnarounds, shutdowns, maintenance, and improve error tolerance and recovery.

At a pivotal time for the oil and gas industry, wireless sensor networks are connecting stranded assets, streamlining operations, dramatically increasing safety standards, and reducing deployment costs. The capability of this technology continues to increase rapidly across this sector. Overall, WSNs invariably create time and cost reducing benefits, which can maximize the potential of the oil and gas industry through reliable networking technology. 

The Applications for NB-IoT Spectrum

by: Jonathan Cogwell & Rachel Bigelow


The expansion and evolution of NB-IoT is positioning the technology as a key pillar in the future of many industries, representing a significant near-term investment priority. Verticals across the board now may benefit from the advent of NB-IoT devices and technology via adoption of private networking, driven by the global mobile cellular industry. In fact, the growth of NB-IoT, estimated at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of between 35% and 61% up to 2025, is poised to only become further integrated into modern wireless technologies.

What Exactly is NB-IoT?

LTE NB-IoT technology is leading this revolution, as it is a part of new cellular standards that offers high credibility as a product of 3GPP standardization, low cost-structure, better coverage, and heightened security.

Building IoT devices through NB-IoT has become an effective way to save on power consumption, decrease the volume of high data storage, and set up in the most remote places on the earth. NB-IoT networks give the promise of connecting thousands of endpoints and devices under a single ecosystem, allowing for efficiencies in data acquisition and control.

NB-IoT Potential Applications

Today, you can already leverage NB-IoT for numerous industries. Despite the flexible nature of the applications, you will need partners with extensive interoperability experience, control systems, management of sensors, vendor communications infrastructure, software and hardware support,  measurement tools, as well as access to suitable spectrum, in order to realize the fully benefits of the technology.

  • Energy and Utilities

With NB-IoT devices, energy systems can be monitored safely with real-time data analysis. Smart gas and smart water metering can accurately manage and troubleshoot at a low cost, while sending alerts if a chemical leak is detected. Pressure, methane, and sewage levels are all components that can be monitored with a smart device, ensuring the safety and efficiency of standard processes. For utilities, these devices can do the same, such as detecting when there is a fault or outage, as well as substation monitoring of the system. 

  • Industrial Automation

NB-IoT is perfect to keep an eye on water and gas meters through small and regular data transmissions. Plus, it also offers broad network coverage in remote ruler areas and even underground cellars. NB-IoT can fill the connectivity gap for industrial automation. It means organizations will be able to save by reducing deployment, operational, and maintenance costs.

  • Smart Cities

NB-IoT is the ideal technology to create and maintain smart cities in order to achieve optimal performance. For instance, NB-IoT provides better parking solutions by integrating existing infrastructure with sufficient parking sensors at an affordable cost and long-lasting battery life. Public or private streetlights can be turned on and off using custom scheduling, an effective method to reduce energy use. With NB-IoT, the waste management system can be transformed to cut back on significant amounts of energy using predictive software to find the most efficient routes and schedules to collect waste. The smart home market is growing at a rapid pace, with the potential to significantly reduce costs utilizing HVAC smart devices. 

  • Agriculture

NB-IoT provides an expansive cellular network as well as a sufficient battery life with minimized costs to cover large areas. Using common practices like geo-fencing allows you to track and monitor livestock remotely, notifying the user when livestock leaves a pre-defined area. Sensors in fixed remote locations can provide full insight by monitoring climate, pollution, and soil specifications while transmitting the data along with benchmarking and trend analysis directly to your device.

  • Transportation

Another essential application of NB-IoT is vehicle tracking in real-time. Supply chain and logistics companies can leverage this application to decrease fraudulent activities in shipping containers, receiving notifications if something out of the ordinary occurs to the vehicle. Additionally, by using fuel consumption monitoring, finding the most energy efficient time and route can be found with the data analysis of an NB-IoT device. Organizations can view the data from multiple vehicles in real-time and install road sensors for better navigation, traffic analysis and prevent congestion.

Wrap Up

When organizations opt for licensed wireless networks, they can save their valuable resources and energy thanks to NB-IoT. You can expect more ubiquitous NB-IoT applications in the foreseeable future. In fact, applications of NB-IoT are already getting more specific to which technology organizations should use. In essence, it would be fair to say that the new wonder of technologies will further streamline the use of NB-IoT.


10 Best Practices for Working Remotely from the Select Spectrum Team

The Select Spectrum team has been working from home since March. We thought it would a good idea to share our 10 best tips from our experience.

  1. When in doubt, make a phone call rather than send an email or text. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  2. Take advantage of collaborative technology including but not limited to video conferencing platforms to further support a close-knit team like atmosphere.

  3. Set goals as a team and work together to achieve them. Create a to-do list and clearly establish priority and an approximate deadline, if possible, of a project once it is assigned. Make sure to write down any notes about the project (i.e. “how to…”) that you think will be important to completing it.

  4. Set daily goals for yourself. This creates structure to your day, and you will spend less time thinking about what to work on next once a project is finished.

  5. Set a tentative schedule for your day to help keep you on track and ensure daily priorities are not overlooked.

  6. If possible, have a separate space that is only for work and let others in your household know when you are working.

  7. Team members who have had the benefit of being a part of the in-office environment should be accommodating to team members who have not have that benefit.

  8. Have consistent working hours with a short lunch break in the middle. Also, have good coffee.

  9. Keep your work area clean and as organized as possible, including the files on your computer and in the cloud.

  10. Eat healthy and exercise as often as possible. After all, a strong body and a strong mind go hand in hand! Take a couple minutes every hour or two to stretch and get some fresh air. Don’t forget to drink water!

LTE NB-IoT ‒ The Right Choice for Your Business

LTE NB-IoT (LTE Narrowband Internet of Things) wireless network deployments carry many benefits and applications in today’s environment – such as low-cost devices, low power usage, extended battery life, high security, and high connection density. The future looks bright for LTE NB-IoT because of the trend towards lower prices, a growing device ecosystem, and the integration of the latest 5G technology and standards. These key attributes of LTE NB-IoT are especially important for Critical Infrastructure Industry (CII) organizations such as electric utility companies as they overhaul and modernize grid telecommunication networks for the 21st Century.

LTE NB-IoT is a communication standard that allows devices to communicate via a wireless network. LTE NB-IoT was specifically built for a machine to machine communications, otherwise known as the Internet of Things. LTE NB-IoT can be considered to be a type of LP-WAN (Low Power – Wide Area Network) which leverages long-range communications with a low bit rate. This limits the bandwidth to between 180kHz and 200kHz. The narrow bandwidth allows communications over a long range, and can support massive numbers of devices at low cost. Power levels are low, so the technology features low battery usage and the ability to support devices that frequently communicate. LTE NB-IoT is also known for being a very secure option for wireless networking. In June of 2013, the specification of NB-IoT was preserved in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, otherwise referred to as 3GPP. LTE NB-IoT relies upon the same security protocols that have been painstakingly developed by and for large mobile wireless carriers. Thus, it benefits from the high levels of security established for this industry and business model. As such, LTE NB-IoT helps create a stable and safe environment for remote sensing and control devices. Some of the inherent security checks made standard by 3GPP are new authentication frameworks, better subscriber privacy, and service-based architecture, and interconnection security. All of these aspects contribute to the overall security of devices running on LTE NB-IoT.

The LTE NB-IoT standard contains a vast and growing ecology of endpoint devices. Examples include smart devices such as streetlights and metering often found in smart cities, smart parking meters, water conservation sensors, home and business alarm systems, and remote data collectors. Generally, these devices do not require large bandwidth and benefit from the efficiencies offered by LTE NB-IoT. This is especially beneficial in remote or difficult to reach locations where low battery usage is extremely important. LTE NB-IoT is also useful when devices are communicating from indoors or underground. By utilizing a narrow-bandwidth, and appropriate modulation techniques, the efficiency of transmission is very high and therefore greatly improves its overall range to 25 miles. This boosts reliability for endpoint devices that might otherwise struggle to get strong and stable signals, such as devices in tunnels, underground parking garages, windowless buildings, and underground data sensors.

One of the most appealing aspects of LTE NB-IoT is its low energy consumption. LTE NB-IoT utilizes a narrow bandwidth that supports a wide range of devices that have a data exchange rate of 250Kbps or less. Since the devices are exchanging low amounts of data at regular or triggered intervals, the battery life of endpoint devices is greatly lengthened. The endpoint devices that run on LTE NB-IoT are highly efficient and cut down on servicing for battery maintenance. This saves the owner of the endpoint device costly manual labor and in some cases, travel expenses to remotely located endpoint devices may be eliminated completely. It has been estimated that running on LTE NB-IoT can increase the longevity of a battery life, lasting as much as ten years or more. Add this savings to the already general low cost of devices and the appeal of NB-IoT increases. Chipset cost is expected to be less than $10 in volume, which keeps costs low for large scale deployments seeking to connect thousands of endpoints.

Through LTE NB-IoT’s smaller bandwidth, it is possible to accommodate a large number of connected endpoint devices. As of January 2020, it was estimated that over 100 million active connections were in place, globally. With trends indicating significant future growth, this number is only expected to continue to rise as LTE NB-IoT is integrated with 5G networks, whereby LTE NB-IoT will increase in speed and cost-effectiveness.

            With this growth, new case studies demonstrating the flexibility of LTE NB-IoT will become increasingly available. Most recently, Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) has embraced LTE NB-IoT, deploying a test-network to maintain and monitor its emergency generators. The utility has also begun to expand this network to monitor water pressure, check wastewater levels, and communicate with leak detection sensors remotely. With this and other types of use, LTE NB-IoT wireless networks for CII organizations and electric utilities is expected to increase rapidly.

From private companies to major utilities, more and more companies are taking advantage of LTE NB-IoT for their endpoint devices. Benefiting from low cost, low battery usage, high efficiency, high security, and a wide availability of endpoint devices, LTE NB-IoT will become an increasingly important wireless network technology. In a rapidly developing tech industry offering many wireless options, use of LTE NB-IoT will grow rapidly due to its competitive advantages.

For more information on LTE NB- IoT visit:

28 GHz Auction Roundup / Predicting the 24 GHz Auction

28 GHz Auction Result Summary

With the end of Auction 101, which focused on issuing remaining licenses 28 GHz band, final provisional winning bid (PWB) figures and statistics are now available via the FCC.  The overall average bid price was $0.0113 / MHz POP, with bids being placed on licenses issued on a per county basis.  The makeup of the licenses was primarily characterized by “lower tier” markets that consist of fewer people, with approx. 80% of the counties being considered to be Rural and 20% Urban[1].  In total, licenses covering approximately 23% of the U.S. population were auctioned.  Bids varied widely, with the highest rate being $0.344 / MHz POP in Daggett County, UT (POPS ~1k) and the lowest being $0.0001919 / MHz POP in Murray County, OK (POPs ~13.5k).

Can the 28 GHz Auction Results Inform a 24 GHz Auction Prediction?

Given the 28 GHz Auction results, can we effectively predict the 24 GHz Auction?  The first step to making an educated guess, in my view, is to first see what a full 28 GHz Auction might have looked like.  The biggest variable between the two proceedings is that the 28 GHz Auction was on a county-based licensing regime, while the 24 GHz Auction will follow a Partial Economic Area (PEA) licensing regime instead.

The below chart demonstrates the 24 GHz band plan –

The 24 GHz proceedings, unlike the 28 GHz Auction, will be wide open for bidding in all 7 blocks across the entire US.  The only exception is that Skyriver Spectrum holds three full PEAs in the Reno, Las Vegas, and Phoenix markets, and one partial PEA (spectrally) in the Albuquerque market – these frequencies will not be auctioned.

My methodology for predicting a full 28 GHz auction, as reasonably as possible, is as follows:

  • Reconcile PWBs with their corresponding PEA
    • In total, 281 PEAs were “auctioned” in Auction 101, in full or in part
  • Filter out statistical skewing, locate most relevant data points
    • Remove PEA data points where the auctioned areas were Rural, whereas the full PEA is Urban (and vice versa) – 261 PEAs remaining
    • Remove PEA data points where less than 50% of the full PEA MHz POPs were auctioned -194 PEAs remaining
    • Remove PEA data points where the margin of the POP density difference between the full PEA area and the auctioned PEA area is > 50% for Urban PEAs, or >50% for Rural areas with a density of 50 POPs / Sq. Mile or more – 189 PEAs remaining
  • Assign PEAs a Market Classification according to the POPs[2] of the full PEA license.  I chose to use the following metrics:

These results are very interesting, as the pricing differences between the Minor Metro category and Semi-Rural category appears to go against past auction history and intuition.  Spectrum in the mmWave bands can carry large amounts of data at high speeds, but requires line of sight to be functional.  One would think that rural markets would command lower values, whereas more urban markets would command higher values.  I primarily attribute this difference to the fact that county sized licenses likely allowed for smaller operators to bid up prices, especially in Semi-Rural markets and Minor Metro centers.  In turn, the sample size of a mere seven PEAs isn’t enough to derive a strong analysis of markets with 1M POPs and up.  Given these conditions, it is quite difficult to predict exactly what a full 28 GHz auction might have looked like. 

Since we probably can’t arrive at a precise number only using the Auction 101 data, an estimate will need to suffice.  Using our largest samples as an anchor (Semi-Rural, Mostly Rural categories) I have made educated guesses on what the rates may have reasonably been in a full auction of all US counties:

The above largely assumes that the competitive nature of the county-licensing in rural areas would have translated into higher-tier markets as well, with competitive bidding occurring between major carriers.  Using this as a baseline, I will consider the following factors for a 24 GHz Auction prediction:

  • PEA licensing should translate into fewer rounds of bidding and less competition from smaller bidding entities in more rural markets, which will in turn lower prices in rural areas.
  • Larger markets may be fairly unpredictable – since on the one hand T-Mobile does not yet have a majority position in any mmWave band, like Verizon (or even a significant position, such as AT&T in 39 GHz).  Turnout from Verizon and AT&T will be unpredictable, seeing as both, as mentioned, do already have significant portfolios.
  • Less spectrum and fewer MHz POPs are being auctioned should depress total $ figures (700 MHz in the 24 GHz band plan, vs. 850 MHz in the 28 GHz band plan).
  • 24 GHz spectrum propagates better and should in turn command higher values (on average I will use a 10% estimate).
  • 24 GHz licenses will be 100 MHz, whereas licenses in the 28 GHz band are 425 MHz.  Generally, the availability to get more capacity commands higher values.  This aspect is hard to predict for the 24 GHz auction – on the one hand, values will be depressed – seeing as 100 MHz is worth less than 425 MHz in a single license.  However, there could be considerable upward pressure on prices from competition to obtain multiple licenses and form contiguous blocks of spectrum.  I will not be factoring this into my analysis due to the difficulty in quantifying the potential impact, but did want to make a note of it.

Overall, my prediction has a larger skew between Rural and Urban areas – with generally higher predicted prices in Urban markets and lower ones in Rural markets, relative to the 28 GHz Auction:

In total, a $7.16B total auction price is predicted.  It will be interesting to compare this analysis to the actual results, and see how far (or how close) this estimation ultimately comes.

Written By: Zachary Thompson, Senior Analyst at Select Spectrum

[1] The FCC considers a rural county to have an average population density <100 POPs / sq. mile, while an urban county having an average population density of >100 POPs / sq. mile.

[2] 2017 POP figures were utilized in this step, resulting in variation from the POPs used by the FCC in the Auction 101 proceedings.

LTE Narrowband IoT: What It Can Do for Cities & Utilities

Smart watches, smart phones, smart homes – everything seems to be getting smarter. Just like these devices, cities and utilities are becoming more efficient too through Smart City and Smart Grid initiatives. As companies add sensors to a growing assortment of devices on their networks (street lamps, sensors, switches, meters),  it becomes increasingly important to select optimal network solutions that can grow as the user’s needs grow. These devices use wireless spectrum to communicate; however, there are many different ways to send wireless data. What are the options?

There are many options for a city planner to use:

  • WIFI? It’s cheap, but it’s short range and prone to security and reliability problems.
  • Cellular? Possible – if there is coverage. However it’s expensive as monthly bills add up. Also, the city doesn’t have any authority over this network. If the network goes down, they have to wait for someone else to fix it.
  • What about the Upper 700 MHz A Block?  At only 2 MHz total capacity, can it even work? For low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) devices, yes – and it’s being proven now.  Select Spectrum and Puloli are deploying an initial system with a partner utility.

By building their own networks, cities and utilities can pick their own devices, guarantee coverage (which can increase battery life), and can know instantly if their network goes down. While such a system might seem like a hefty investment, LTE Narrowband IoT (LTE NB-IoT) leverages the worldwide cellular ecosystem to offer very low-cost remote modules and operational benefits.  These benefits may fully justify the deployment expense and allow utilities and smart cities to benefit from the worldwide investment in LTE NB-IoT standard.

28 GHz Auction Expected to Quickly Wind to a Close

As the FCC’s spectrum auction of 5GULF licenses in the 28 GHz band enters Stage 2[1], the first Auction for microwave frequencies situated above 24 GHz, now designated for 5G services, is expected to wind to a close.  Bidding could drag longer, should a handful of markets continue to receive bids from auction participants. However, the trend will be towards fewer bids being placed, and the marginal value increases between bidding rounds diminishing.

While the Stage 2 rules did result in a short boost to bidding values, the rules also will help to expedite the process of Auction 101 reaching the market clearing price for each license available from the FCC.  As Figure 1 shows, there has been, an expected, general downward trend in the % increase in the total dollars of the Provisional Winning Bids.  Surges in bidding occurred directly following the FCC issued break for the observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday (between rounds 13 – 14) and the announcement of the Stage 2 rules (following round 38).  The Stage 2 announcement also corresponded with a 1-day suspension in bidding for in observance of the National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush.

Figure 1


As of Round 46, 1,522 unique market areas[2], covering approximately 73.5 million POPS, have received bids.  The latest average $ / MHz POP rate, as shown in Figure 2, is $0.01039 / MHz POP, signals an approaching end to the Auction, should we use the “typical” FCC auction that includes eligible bidding on markets of all sizes, nationwide, as a comparison.

Figure 2

Select Spectrum’s analysis is that this average price is squarely within the zone of expectations for a typical Auction End average price range.  This conclusion can be reached by working backwards using the Select Spectrum estimated Verizon / StraightPath transaction LMDS price of $0.0276 / MHz POP, (as outlined in our prior blog post), as a measuring stick for what the average price of what a typical FCC auction might have produced in the band[3].

Auction 101, by in large, contains no markets above 1M POPs for purchase[4], (the largest being Honolulu at 953,207 POPs).  These markets for the most part would be considered by most to be “lower tiered”.  Lower tiered markets, generally, only go for a fraction, (around 20 – 50%, varying by market size), of the average $ / MHz POP of a typical FCC auction.  The current average price of the Auction is at 38% of the StraightPath value, falling neatly within what might be expected.

Markets in the 1-2M POPs range, on the other hand, are generally quite close to the average price of a typical FCC auction.  The Honolulu market, then, is the closest use of this metric that we have within Auction 101 to use as insight as to what a typical auction might have produced.  Since Round 21, the Honolulu Block holding a bid of $0.0253 / MHz POP ($10,272,000), has received no new bids – as such the price can be considered as “final”, for now.  When compared against the Straight Path average $ / MHz POP price, the Honolulu bid finds itself as approximately 92% of that value.  This is remarkably close to nearly 1:1 ratio of markets of this size with the typical average auction price.

Given that expectations were low for the Auction, and that prices seem to be in line with what we might consider “average”, the 28 GHz Auction certainly seems to be performing “above expectations”.

Select Spectrum plans to provide a full analysis upon the close of Auction 101, along with predictions for Auction 102.

Written By: Zachary Thompson, Senior Analyst at Select Spectrum

[1] At Bidding Round 43, Stage 2 began – requiring bidders to now be active on 95% of their current bidding eligibility, as opposed to only 80% in Stage 1.  Please find additional details regarding bidding eligibility here:

[2] Market area sizes for Auction 101 are licensed on an individual county basis.

[3] Verizon’s acquisition of Straight Path was completed in a semi-competitive environment (having outbid AT&T).

[4] FCC Market sizes at Auction vary.  The 28 GHz auction is based upon County sized tracts, whereas many other auctions are based upon Economic Area or Partial Economic Area tracts, made up of multiple counties.