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FCC Records Another Record Round in 28 GHz Auction

The FCC set another round record in the 28 GHz auction, with bidding in round 25 totaling $20,490,400 to push the bid total to $298,826,280, up 7.36% from round 24's total. The previous round-over-round increase in provisionally winning bids (PWBs) had been $19,614,710 in round 23.

But the auction also appears to have hit something of a wall in terms of licenses bid on. For the fourth round in a row bidders were vying for the same 2,496 licenses, with the FCC still holding 576 licenses with no bids, or about 25% of the total.

There were 2,496 PWBs bid on in round 22 and the same in rounds 23, 24 and 25 and, since no bids were withdrawn, those would have to be the same licenses being bid on in those rounds. The FCC still has 576 licenses yet to draw bids, or a little under 25% of the total 3,072 licenses available.

Related: 28 GHz Auction Launching

The top five new bids for those same, county-sized, licenses were in Hidalgo, Tex. ($5,529,000), Kern, Calif. ($5,183,000), Volusia, Fla. ($3,521,000), Dane, Wis. ($3,224,000), and Berks, Pa. ($3,171,000).

The FCC is looking for wireless carriers to gobble up the spectrum to boost their holdings as they prepare to roll out 5G service at speeds that should make wireless an undisputed full-fledged competitor to wired broadband.

An FCC spokesperson had no comment on whether the FCC could or would try to goose the auction by adding or shortening rounds, as it has in past auctions, given that no new licenses had been bid on in four rounds. But the decision on whether to change the schedule also has to do with how active the bidding is or isn't for the licenses that are currently in play.

Related: FCC Votes to Put More Broadband Spectrum in Play

Currently there are four, one-hour, rounds per day.

Since the $40 million aggregate floor price for the auction has long passed, it can close with no more licenses being bid on. However many, if any, licenses don't draw bids will likely be re-auctioned at some later date, though for now when this auction closes, the FCC will hold a second auction for more high-band spectrum (in this case 24 GHz in larger license sizes).