AWS-3 Auction Slows

After a day of bidding following a holiday break, the AWS-3 spectrum auction ended Monday (Jan. 5) on round 147, which drew only 17 new bids for licenses in smaller markets, totalling $2,503,400.

The auction began Nov. 13 and has so far generated $44,560,167,000 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 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.

Before taking a break Dec. 23, the auction moved into its third stage. It has increasingly ramped up the requirements to remain in the bidding as a way to speed the auction along.

In stage three, which kicked in Tuesday (Dec. 16), a bidder must be actively bidding on 98% of the licenses for which it is eligible in each round. To check out the details of remaining in the bidding, go here.

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.

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.