FCC AWS-3 Auction Closes

The FCC's AWS-3 auction has officially closed, having raised $44,899,451,600.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced the news at the public meeting Thursday (Jan. 29).

There is a Feb. 22 statutory deadline for issuing the licenses, but the FCC will miss that by a bit, and Congress is unlikely to complain given the historic total raised, though the bids remain provisional until the paperwork is completed.

The FCC is expected to get out a final notice on the auction in the next several days, which will identify the bidders. Bidders will have 20 days to pay up and file various forms, after which there is a comment period.

Put together, that would push the licensing beyond the Feb. 22 statutory deadline.

There was a total of 65 MHz of spectrum up for auction in 1,614 geographic licenses. The record total —more than twice the previous high for an FCC spectrum auction— relieves the financial pressure on the broadcast incentive auction.

"This is great news," said Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee. "I don't think anyone imagined we'd raise this much money. It's going to help us build a state-of-the-art communications network for first responders and pay down some of the nation's debt."

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.