FCC Shortens Rounds in High-Band Spectrum Auction

With the gross proceeds from the FCC's latest high-band spectrum (Spectrum Frontiers) auction showing little round-to-round increases, the FCC has taken another step to goose bidding and speed the auction of spectrum for 5G.

Starting Wednesday (Jan. 29), the FCC is increasing the number of rounds from five to seven, and shortening the rounds from 30 minutes to 20.

At press time, the gross bidding total was $7,560,741,954, up only a few million in the last 16 rounds from $7,519,663,706 after round 80.

On Jan. 23, the FCC boosted the required bid increase per round from 10% to 15% in an effort to boost bidding.

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.