FCC 3.45-GHz Auction Bidding Inches Up

A gavel on top of a stack of money
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At the end of day two — and round five — the Federal Communications Commission’s 3.45-GHz auction had drawn $893,055,800 in bids. That’s up only slightly from round four's $812,765,200 total.

While first-day bidding was $672,410,700 over only two rounds. Wednesday's (Oct. 6) bidding only upped that by about $140 million. There is still a ways to go before bidding reaches the reserve price of $14,775,354,330, the minimum that has to be bid in aggregate before the auction can close.

Some estimates for the final auction take have gone as high as $25 billion.

Perhaps, but cable operators and others who had issues with how the FCC structured the auction have said that the $13.4 billion estimated cost of clearing the spectrum — hence the almost $15 billion reserve price — would “likely put licenses out of reach for all but the three largest nationwide wireless operators.”

Among the qualified bidders are AT&T, T-Mobile and Cellco Partnership (Verizon Wireless).

The bidders are competing for 4,060 flexible use licenses — they can be used for fixed or mobile service — comprising 100-MHz of spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band. The spectrum is subject to sharing with the Department of Defense, the incumbent user in the band. The DOD has identified the 100 MHz it said it could share with commercial operations so long as there were interference protections.

The renewable licenses are initially for 15 years, subject to performance requirements. There are small business, rural and tribal business credits, capped at $25 million for small business and $10 milion for rural service providers.

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.