FCC Spectrum Auction Expected to Resume

The FCC's high-band spectrum auction (103) was expected to resume Wednesday (Jan. 8) after a brief hiatus, the commission indicated. 

A snow/ice storm prompted a government early closing Tuesday and the FCC suspended bidding after only one round. 

Currently, the gross bidding total stands at $6,248,994,052, up about $85 million from the previous round, with 35 qualified bidders 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).   

FCC chairman Ajit Pai noted the auction's $6 billion-plus take so far when talking to Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro in a CES 2020 Q&A Tuesday when talking about the imperative for freeing up more spectrum, the sine qua non for next-gen wireless. 

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.