FCC Spectrum Auction Gets Pumped

The FCC has apparently pumped new life into the 28 GHz spectrum auction. The first round after it moved to stage three Jan. 15, with bidders required to bid on eligible licenses unless they had a waiver—produced $0 in new bidding money.

But since then it has seen a dozen rounds of six-figure increases in the aggregate provisional winning bids (PWBs). Any original or new bid on a license is a PWB since all bids must be above the floor price the FCC will accept.

As of round 140—the auction began Nov. 14 of last year—the bid total was inching closer to $700 million, with $696,006,430 bid on 3,259 licenses. That leaves 113 licenses still without PWBs, but there were 35 new bids totaling $332,150 more in PWBs than the previous round.

There are 29 more licenses with provisional winning bids since the FCC moved to stage 3.

The auction will close when there are no bids and no waivers employed in a round, which would have happened in round 128, the one with no bids, had not a waiver (or waivers) been used to keep bidders in the game and the auction continuing.

While much of the FCC is shuttered due to the government shutdown, the auction will continue since it is funded through auction proceeds rather than the appropriation currently held up by the battle between the President and Congress over border security and a wall/barrier/fence.

There are 40 qualified bidders competing for the 28 GHz spectrum, including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, but none of the major cable operators eyeing wireless plays—though Cox is signed up for the 24 GHz auction.

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.