C-Band Auction Pauses on High Note: $69,831,352,266 in Gross Proceeds

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The FCC's C-Band auction of sought-after midband spectrum continued to pile on the bids Wednesday as it prepared for a holiday break after a flurry of activity since the auction launched only a little over two weeks ago (Dec. 8) .

Also Read: Divided FCC Votes to Proceed with C-Band Auction

After round (round 45), which ended at noon and was the last bidding until the auction resumes Monday, Jan. 4, total gross proceeds stood at a whopping $69,831,352,266, up from an almost equally whopping $68,254,850,770 in round 44 earlier in the day. Bidding has been increasing by billions of dollars per round, including a couple of $4 billion-plus round-over-round increases (https://www.nexttv.com/news/c-band-auction-bids-up-dollar4-billion-plus-in-single-round).

The C-Band Alliance predicted months ago that the spectrum could bring upwards of $75 billion--low-end estimates were $25 billion-$30 billion--and that high-end prediction appears to be on the mark.

The final total will be whittled down a bit by whatever it cost the FCC to run the auction. But while the FCC is also paying a $9.7 billion incentive payment to the five eligible satellite carriers to exit their spectrum early, that is not coming out of the auction proceeds total an FCC spokesperson pointed out. (The story originally suggested it would).

Related: Verizon is Top CBRS Auction Bidder

The FCC voted last February to free up 300 MHz of C-Band (3.7-3.98 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 will use the remaining 200 MHz to continue to deliver network programming to broadcaster and cable operator (and other) clients.

Bidders in the auction include AT&T, Cellco Partnership, Cox, T-Mobile, and United States Cellular.

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.