Only seven days into the FCC's C-Band auction, bidding topped $10 billion as of the last round Tuesday (Dec. 15).
The total gross proceeds after round 20 of the auction, which launched Dec. 8, were $10,504,473,550, up more than a billion dollars from $9,566,525,750 in round 19.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said this week that he thought the bidding on 280 MHz of prime midband spectrum was going "very well" and that "when it was all said and done," which could be after he leaves Jan. 20, "this is going to be one of our most significant actions to date on 5G."
The FCC is auctioning flexible spectrum licenses, so they would technically not have to be used for 5G, but that appears to be what the bidders mostly have their eyes on.
Those bidders include AT&T, Cellco Partnership, Cox, T-Mobile, and United States Cellular.
The FCC voted last February to free up 300 MHz of the C-Band for 5G, 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 will use the remaining 200 MHz to continue to deliver network programming to broadcaster and cable operator (and other) clients.
Pai said that there were some anxious moments on Dec. 8 when there were still outstanding court challenges to the auction. "We hadn't yet heard from the court and so I was wondering: 'Geez, is this court going to stop the auction. Then, that morning about two hours before the auction started, that court issued its one-page decision saying the FCC got it right. That was incredible vindication...'"
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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.
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