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AWS-3 Powers Past $44 Billion

At press time the FCC's AWS-3 spectrum auction had pushed past $44 billion and was inching its way toward $45 billion.

Actually, the provisional bid total after round 101 was $44,074,948,000, with 146 new bids in the round totaling $43,734,000.

All but one of the 1,614 available licenses have bidders, but since the reserve price of $10.587 billion has been more than quadrupled, the auction can end whenever there are no more bids or waivers in a round.

The auction began Nov. 13 with predictions it might bring in as much as $16 billion. It has obviously outperformed expectations. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are among the 70 eligible bidders that began the auction, and are expected to go home with the lion's share.

There are 65 MHz of spectrum in the auction, whose proceeds will pay for FirstNet, the interoperable broadband network, and then some.

The auction has already been dubbed a big success outside and inside the FCC, and should relieve financial pressures on the broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for early 2016.

The distance between the AWS-3 and incentive auction may be one reason wireless companies have powered the AWS-3 auction into record territory, more than doubling the take of the next-largest auction, which was the $18,957,582 in winning bids for the 700 MHz auction in 2008; Actually, there was $19,120,378,000 in provisional winning bids, but the D block bid failed to meet the reserve and did not convert to a winning bid.

Before the AWS-3 auction bids are official, the winners have to fill out the paperwork, pony up the money, and the public and stakeholders have a chance to comment on, or object to, the winners of the auction.