FCC AWS-3 Auction Ends Day on Up Note

Bidding picked up in the last round (round 35) of the day at the FCC's wildly successful AWS-3 auction of 65 MHz of wireless spectrum.

Bids picked up over the previous round with 251 (vs. 131 in the previous round), and three licenses whose bids had been withdrawn drew new bids. The total for new bids in the round was $351,828,900 (up from the $334,391,800 in round 34), for a grand total in provisional bids of $37,472,259,300.

Of the 1,614 licenses available, all but 20 have provisional bids. At one point all of them had bids, but a handful were withdrawn.

There will be two more rounds of bidding Wednesday, then the auction takes a Thanksgiving holiday break until Dec. 1. While the auction will almost certainly be a record-breaker — the previous top money-getter was the 700 MHz auction at $18.9 billion — it is not officially one just yet.

All the bids are provisional winning bids, as witness the fact that a few of them have been withdrawn and the spectrum back in the FCC's hands, at least until another bid is offered up.

But even after the auction officially closes — no more bids or waivers — the total is not official.

There is a down payment deadline 10 days after the FCC issues a public notice announcing the close of the auction. Bidders already had to make an upfront payment, which combined with the down payment has to total 20% of the winning bid price.

Actually, given the holiday season, the FCC has set that down payment deadline at Jan. 7 or 10 days after auction ends, whichever is later.

Winning bidders also have to file a long-form application for the licenses within 10 days after the end of the auction.

But wait, there's more. The FCC reviews those forms and then issues a public notice saying they are in and reviewed, after which the public can file petitions challenging the auction.

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.