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FCC Tweaks 24 GHz Auction to Boost Bidding

With the 24 GHz auction bidding having slowed in the past few days, the FCC has decided to goose the process.

Beginning Thursday, April 4, bidding will increase from three, one-hour rounds, per day to five, half-hour rounds.

At press time, the bid total after round 42 was $1,777,850,720. The high bids in the top two markets, New York and L.A., respectively, were $41,113,000 and and $31,635,000, respectively. But those bids have not increased in over a dozen rounds after steadily climbing in previous rounds.

The FCC is auctioning the spectrum to free up more bandwidth for 5G wireless broadband, to help close the rural digital divide, and to make wireless a stronger competitor to wired broadband.

The millimeter-wave (high-band) auction opened March 14 and is being held in two phases. Initial bidding (clock phase) is on generic spectrum, with a follow-on auction (assignment phase) among the winners for specific frequencies.

Related: FCC Launches Latest 5G Auction

The clock auction means the FCC continues to raise prices automatically after each round, so long as there is more demand than supply, until there are not bidders left, high bidder at that point wins.

The initial license periods are not to exceed 10 years. There are also build-out requirements—so the spectrum can't be warehoused but must be used as advertised. Bidding credits were available for rural service, small businesses and tribal lands, capped at $25 million.

The 24 GHz spectrum is divided into a lower and higher portion, the lower (24.25 – 24.45 GHz and 24.75 – 25.25 GHz) being licenses as two, 100-MHz blocks and the upper (24.75 – 25.25 GHz) licenses as five, 100 MHz blocks.

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.