AWS-3 Auction Continues to Slow

After day two of bidding following a holiday break, the AWS-3 spectrum auction ended Tuesday (Jan. 6) on round 157, which drew only 8 new bids for licenses in smaller markets, totaling $1,632,000.

The auction began Nov. 13 and has so far generated $44,593,143,200 in provisional bids—they are not final until the paperwork is finished, the money is paid up, and the public is allowed to comment.

All of the major market licenses have been apparently locked up for weeks, with no bids on any of the top 15 priciest licenses since round 64. There are numerous geographic licenses covering New York, with three of them drawing over $1 billion each, and one of them the top price overall at $2.762 billion.

Having quadrupled its reserve asking price and tripled early estimates of its final take, the auction is by all accounts a rousing success, and means there should be less pressure on the broadcast incentive auction to raise money, since the funds for a first responder network, e911 and R&D that the H-Block auction (which ended early this year), the AWS-3 auction and broadcast incentive auction (scheduled for early 2016) were to pay for have already been covered and then some by those first two auctions.

The auction started with 70 eligible bidders, with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile expected to divvy up the lion's share of the 65 MHz of spectrum in the auction.

As of Jan. 6, rounds have been shortened to 15 minutes, with 10 rounds per day until further notice.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.