FCC Spectrum Auction Picks Up Some More Steam

The 28 GHz auction has kicked back into gear with almost 50 new bids and the largest round-by-round increase in provisional winning bids--$423,800--since round 70 back on Dec. 14.

The FCC this week shortened the duration and increased the frequency of rounds--appropriate for an auction of spectrum--which it historically does to boost bidding.

Related: FCC Spectrum Auction Turns 100 (Rounds)

Since the FCC is able to use spectrum auction proceeds rather than appropriations money to fund the process, the auction has been continuing even with the partial government shutdown.

As of round 115, the provisional winning bid total is $693,850,780 (the amount the auction would raise if the auction had ended after that round).

The auction will continue until there are not new bids in a round, then whatever licenses did not draw bids (currently there are 133 without bids versus 2,939 with PWBs) can be re-auctioned at a later date since only $40 million had to have been bid in aggregate over all the licenses for the auction to be able to close.

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.

The FCC concedes it has never pushed so much spectrum into the market at one time before, which could mean those lower prices, but the point is to get the spectrum out there "fast" given that wireless carriers have been talking up the need for speed and bandwidth for an internet of everything, 5G world.

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.