CBRS Auction Ticks Up

After round two of the FCC's first auction of flexible-license midband spectrum (the 3.5 GHz band) Friday (July 24), the gross proceeds were $388,732,380, up a little over $30 million from $357,344,200 after the first, six-hour, round Thursday. 

The auction has already the FCC's floor price for the spectrum, which it did easily on day one.  

Round two was the first of two, two-hour rounds being held Friday. 

The FCC is auctioning 70 MHz worth of county-based Priority Access Licenses (PALs) (a whopping 22,631 of them) in the 3550-3650 MHz (CBRS) band.   

Related: FCC Approves CBRS Auction Framework

The auction--the most licenses ever offered at one time--is meant to further the buildout of 5G and the internet of things (IoT). 

The FCC voted 3-1 along party lines Oct. 23, 2018, to change the rules on licenses for the 3.5 GHz (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) band to make it more attractive for providers of 5G, which includes cable ops looking to up their mobile broadband game. The change was billed as a way to spur investment in the band and promote more efficient use, including for 5G. 

While the FCC is playing up the auction, Tom Power, SVP and general counsel at CTIA, told a Senate Commerce hearing audience that like Thursday's opening day for pandemic-era baseball, they were playing under different rules and don't know how it is going to go. He pointed out that due to protections for incumbent band users, wireless carriers are limited to about one-seventh the power they get to use in other bands, so building 5G out beyond urban areas with the 3.5 GHz spectrum presented a challenge.

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.