FCC Tries Again to Goose 5G Spectrum Bidders

The FCC took another step Thursday (Jan. 23) to speed up the bidding on high-band spectrum in its Spectrum Frontiers auction. 

The FCC has been beginning each round by raising the opening price by 10%. It now says that starting with the first round on Friday (round 82) it will raise the ante for bidding on all spectrum products in the auction by 15% each round. 

FCC Prods Bidding in 5G Spectrum Auction 

Earlier this week the FCC boosted its "activity" requirement from 95% to 100%, meaning bidders must now bid on 100% of the spectrum they are eligible to bid on in each round. 

At press time, after 80 rounds, the auction had raised $7,519,663,706 in gross proceeds, an increase of only a little under $30 million over the past half dozen rounds. 

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.