FCC 3.45-GHz Auction Tops Reserve Price

5g artistic rendering
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission‘s 3.45-GHz midband spectrum auction has topped its reserve price ($14,775,354,330), drawing $15,007,420,806 in aggregate bids after round 40 Wednesday, meaning the auction can close whenever bidding finally winds down. 

The auction launched Oct. 5, under a congressional mandate to sell off the spectrum by year-end.

Bidding increased by leaps and billion-dollar bounds per round over the past few days after the FCC increased the number of rounds and decreased the duration, something it traditionally does to goose its spectrum auctions.

Also Read: FCC Speeding Up Auction Yet Again

The auction will still need to attract more bidders‘ bucks — there are 33 qualified bidders — if it is to return any money to the Treasury, since the reserve basically covers the cost of relocating incumbent its incumbent federal user, the Defense Department. 

Cable broadband operators warned that the way the FCC set up the auction could discourage participation and depress the price. Among the major players in the auction are AT&T, T-Mobile and Cellco Partnership (Verizon Wireless).

The Defense Department has agreed to share 100 Megahertz of the spectrum that uses for things like radar systems, as long as the new licensed users don‘t cause undue interference.

The FCC is auctioning 4,060 flexible-use licenses that it expects to be used for 5G, though they can be used for virtually any fixed or mobile broadband service. Licenses are renewable for terms of no more than 15 years. There is a 40 MHz limit on how much any one bidder can acquire in a single area.

The FCC is providing a $25 million bidding credit for small businesses and a $10 million credit for rural 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.