FCC 28 GHz Auction: Zero-Bid Round Followed by New Action

For the first time in the FCC's 28 GHZ spectrum auction, the round-over-round increase in dollars bid across the available three thousand-plus licenses was zero.

But the auction did not close because at least one bidder employed a waiver for bidding in round 128. That zero dollar total was after the increase between rounds 126 and 127 was equivalent to buying Starbucks coffee for a small office--$80.

Bidding picked up in round 129 over 128, with bidding increasing by $310,400, including with bidding on an additional 19 licenses over the round before.

Related: FCC 28 GHz Spectrum Auction Turns 100 (Rounds)

The auction is in stage 3 as of Tuesday (Jan. 15), which means unless a bidder has a waiver to use, as happened in the zero-bid round, it must bid on 100% of the licenses on which it is eligible to bid or risk losing its ability in future rounds.

The FCC concedes it has never pushed so much spectrum into the market at one time before, which could mean those lower prices, but the point is to get the spectrum out there "fast" given that wireless carriers have been talking up the need for speed and bandwidth for an internet of everything, 5G world.

The FCC will hold another (24 GHz) spectrum auction immediately following this one, and three more are in the pipeline for this year.

The spectrum auction has continued through the partial government shutdown because the staffers are paid out of auction proceeds not the appropriations currently held up by the fight over a border barrier.

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.