FCC Prods Bidding in 5G Spectrum Auction

The FCC is trying to goose its high-band 5G spectrum auction. 

The bidding leveled off after topping $7 billion 30 rounds ago, standing at $7,490,432,312 in gross proceeds after 74 rounds, so the FCC is requiring bidders to put up or face being cut off from further bidding. 

As of Tuesday (Jan. 21) the FCC is requiring bidders to bid on 100% of the spectrum for which they are eligible--it had been at least 95%. 

Related: FCC Boosts Pace of Spectrum Auction

Any bidder who fails to do that faces their eligibility being reduced to equal that activity--or lack of it--and possibly eliminating its ability to place future bids. 

The 35 qualified bidders in the auction are competing for a whopping 3,400 MHz of millimeter-wave spectrum (in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands), the most spectrum the FCC has ever offered in an auction of any type. The spectrum can be used for both fixed and mobile broadband and is being auctioned in 100 MHz blocks in partial economic areas (PEAs). 

After the initial auction, there will be a follow-on auction among any of the license winners who want specific frequencies. 

The most recent high-band ("spectrum frontiers" branded) auction, which ended last May raised $2,024,268,941 in gross proceeds after 91 rounds, but that was for approximately 700 MHz. 

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.