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FCC 28 GHz Auction Slows, Picks Up Again

The FCC's 28 GHz auction slowed down briefly Tuesday after getting off to a quick start after a four-day Thanksgiving holiday break, then bounced back to bracket the bidding with another near-record round.

After recording its second-biggest one-round bid dollar increase in round 15, rounds 16-18 saw the lowest increases in the past 10 days, then finished off with what was the new second-largest increase.

In round 18, the bidding increased over the previous round by $11,353,730 to $182,066,660.

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As of round 18, 2,447 provisionally winning bids (PWBs) have been placed on the county-sized licenses (or over 72% of the total 3,072 licenses), leaving the FCC with 648 licenses that have either not yet drawn bids or had been withdrawn in an earlier round--their were no withdrawls in round 18--and have not been re-bid.

PWBs are licenses that would go to those bidders if the auction were to end immediately.

In round 16, bidding increased $7,844,810 to $164,330,520, compared to an $11 million-plus increase the round before.

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Round 17 drew $6,382,410 in new bids to bump the total to $170,712,930, the lowest increase since round 3.

The FCC is looking to get spectrum into the hands of wireless broadband providers for 5G. There are no cable broadband providers in this auction, though Cox is lined up to bid in the 24 GHz auction that will begin as soon as this auction ends.

Together, there is more spectrum in both auctions than currently being used by all wireless carriers combined as the FCC tries to meet the needs of an "internet of everything" world.

The FCC concedes it has never pushed so much spectrum into the market at one time before, which could mean lower prices, but the point is to get the spectrum out there "fast."

The 28 GHz auction (auction 101) is offering two, 425 MHz, blocks divided into 3,072 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) county-sized licenses in the 27.5–28.35 GHz band

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.