What just happened? The Federal Communications Commission recently wrapped up the largest spectrum auction in US history in which 3,400 megahertz of millimeter-wave spectrum in the upper 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz bands was made available.

According to the FCC, bidders scooped up 99.9 percent of the available licenses, generating $7.6 billion in net bids and $4.47 billion after incentive payments. In total, 28 bidders collected 14,142 of the 14,144 licenses.

Documentation shows that Straight Path Spectrum, LLC, owned by Verizon, was the top spender in the auction, shelling out $3.4 billion for 4,940 licenses. The next biggest spender was FiberTower Spectrum Holdings LLC (AT&T), taking home 3,267 licenses on nearly $2.4 billion in bids. T-Mobile walked away with 2,384 licenses for $932 million, or $873 million after incentive payments from relinquishing spectrum usage rights.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Auction 103 was a tremendous success, adding that the commission looks forward to the 3.5GHz auction slated to begin on June 25 followed by the C-band auction on December 8.

As we linger on the brink of 5G, it's unsurprising that the nation's largest wireless providers are bolstering their war chests. It goes without saying that providers with large spectrum footprints have an automatic leg up on the competition.

5G is expected to revolutionize wireless communication, allowing for data transmission that is many times faster than current infrastructure can deliver. Most believe these enhanced speeds will enable all sorts of new connected experiences that simply aren't possible today, some of which haven't even been conceived yet.

Masthead credit: Bid by Tetiana Yurchenko. 5G tower by TPROduction.