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C-Band Auction Appears Poised to Close

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The C-Band Auction is looking like it could wrap up as soon as Friday (Jan. 15).

The FCC has been auctioning 5,684 new flexible-use overlay terrestrial licenses for midband spectrum in the 3.7–3.98 GHz satellite band in the contiguous United States.

Also Read: C-Band Auction Slows to Trickle

As of round 94 at the end of the day Thursday (Jan. 14), total gross proceeds were $80,915,978,754, having only risen a few hundred thousand dollars over round 93's $80,915,631,764, with only one generic spectrum "product" currently with more demand than supply and the other 451 with demand equal to supply and none with demand less than supply.

The auction, which has generated almost double the gross proceeds of the previous FCC spectrum auction record-holder, ends when demand does not exceed supply for any product.

The FCC voted last February to free up 300 MHz of C-Band (3.7-4.2 GHz) satellite spectrum for terrestrial 5G broadband, 280 of that to be auctioned and 20 MHz to be used as a guard band between wireless users and the incumbent satellite operators that are being relocated to the remaining upper 200 MHz to continue to deliver network programming to broadcasters and cable operators (and other) clients, and to relay video from the field to the studio.

Also Read: Cable Ops Say C-Band Bucks Should Be Use-Specific

The first phase of that repack is scheduled to conclude by December 2021.

"The bidding we have seen, in my view, represents a strong endorsement by the private sector of the rules that the FCC has put in place to transition this spectrum to 5G," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in remarks Friday to the information Technology Industry Council. "Industry clearly has confidence that this spectrum will become available quickly and will be critical to 5G deployment."

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.