FCC Gooses CBRS Auction Yet Again

(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC has decided to bump up the number of rounds in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) auction to five, and shorten them to 45 minutes, starting Tuesday, Aug. 25.

RELATED: CBRS Auction Inches Up

That is up from four one-hour rounds.

At press time, the auction had completed 66 rounds with a gross proceeds total of $4,580,094,931. But that total had only grown by a few million dollars per round over the last several rounds.

After round 66, there only 14 counties with more demand for spectrum licenses than supply.

The FCC is auctioning 70 MHz worth of county-based Priority Access Licenses (PALs) — a whopping 22,631 of them in the 3550-3650 MHz 93.5 GHz band. That is the most-ever flexible use licenses maDe available in a single auction, the FCC said. Each license will be a 10-MHz unpaired channel.

The auction is intended "to further deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other advanced spectrum-based services in the United States." 

The FCC set a reserve price on the spectrum at $107,991,840, which was met in round one.

Pre-auction estimates for total auction proceeds ranged from about $2 billion to as much as $10 billion.

Mark Gibson, director, business development, at CommScope, and a board member of the CBRS Alliance and Wireless Innovation Forum, calls the auction historic for a number of reasons. "First, this is the most licenses ever auctioned by the FCC at 22,631. Second, this is the most bidders ever participating in an FCC auction at 271. Third, it’s likely someone will be able to acquire a spectrum license for a little over $1,000. Another notable point is that there is steady interest in small counties."

He said he thinks the auction will wind up putting some spectrum in the hands of smaller, rural interests, which is one of the FCC's goals. 

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.