CBRS Auction Tops $500M

The FCC's midband CBRS spectrum auction topped $500 million Tuesday (July 28) after round-six bidding that pushed the total up by over $60 million to $519,155,888. 

Related: FCC Launches First 5G Mid-Band Auction 

The auction, the FCC's first-ever flexible-license mid-band auction, began with a single, six-hour, round; moved to two, two-hour rounds, for the succeeding two days, and on Wednesday (July 29), will shift to three, hour-and-a-half rounds until further notice, which is at least through Thursday, according to the FCC's web site. 

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 93.5 GHz) band. It is the most-ever flexible-use licenses available in a single auction, the FCC said. Each license will be a 10 MHz unpaired channel. There are 271 qualified bidders. 

The band is being shared by federal and non-federal users, with incumbents--Navy radar, for example--having the top priority, followed by PALs and then general authorized users (GAAs).  

Sasha Javid, COO of BitPath and former top FCC auction official, says that a couple of the key questions the auction should answer is how much Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint is willing to pay for spectrum that requires frequency coordination and "strict" power limits and whether Charter and Comcast (or Dish) will "take the plunge" and bid "in a meaningful way." 

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.