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AWS-3 Cruises Into Holiday Break

The AWS-3 spectrum auction continued to roll along Tuesday, topping $44.5 billion—$44,512,340,500 as of round 134, in which there were 39 new bids totaling $8,760,000.

The auction will continue until there are no more bids or waivers in a round, with the caveat that it is taking a hiatus over the holidays, closing down after the last round Tuesday (Dec. 23) and not starting up again until 10 a.m. Jan. 5—assuming it does not end in the next five rounds—with eight rounds per day. The FCC increased to eight rounds from six rounds on Dec. 19 to try to further speed the auction toward its close.

The auction began Nov. 13 and has exceeded even the most generous predictions of its total take, more than quadrupling its reserve bid price in the process.

All of the current bidding is for smaller markets. The top 10 bids—for New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Dallas-Fort Worth licenses—have not been upped in at least 70 rounds.

Currently three New York-Long Island markets claim three of the top five spots in top bids (over $5 billion collectively).

The AWS-3 auction is for 65 MHz of spectrum. There were about 70 qualified bidders, with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile expected to get the lion's share. Sprint sat out the auction.

Its proceeds will go to pay for FirstNet, the first responder interoperable broadband network, as well as E911, R&D, and paying down some national debt. Its success should also relieve some of the financial pressure on the ensuing broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for 2016.