AWS-3: Bids Up, Total Up, Auction Rolls

With bidding over for a busy and productive week for FCC auctions, the AWS-3 auction of 65 MHz of wireless spectrum ended the week on a high note.

Bids were up over the previous round at 505; the total value of new bids was up, at $1,123,634,800; and the total after round 27 was $34,082,759,300.

The auction began on Nov. 13, with some predicting it to generate $15 billion or so—the reserve was $10.587 billion. Having more than doubled that, the auction is being seen as a good sign for valuations of broadcaster spectrum in the incentive auction, and for companies already with wireless spectrum reserves, like Sprint or Dish.

The auction begins again Monday morning, with $35 billion-$40 billion appearing not to be an unreasonable target for a final tally. There are 70 bidders, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

It is one of three auctions whose proceeds will go toward funding an emergency communications network (FirstNet) and other projects as well as deficit reduction.

The first (H block) auction collected $1.564 billion toward that goal (FirstNet alone is $7 billion). The FCC predicted that the AWS-3 auction would raise most if not all of that $7 billion, putting less pressure on the third auction, the broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for 2016. The FCC turned out to be right.

The auction won’t be over until there are no more bids or waivers exercised.

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.