FCC's 24 GHz Auction Tops $300M in First Day

At the end of day one (March 14), the FCC's 24 GHz auction of millimeter-wave spectrum for 5G drew a gross bidding total of $304,359,080.

That was after only two, two-hour rounds. Starting Friday (March 15), the auction moves to three, one-hour rounds.

Related: FCC Launches Latest 5G Auction

Not surprisingly, the top money bids were in number one market New York ($5,047,000) and number two market Los Angeles ($3,882,000).

There are 2,909 licenses available for bid in the 24 GHz band. The lower segment of the band (24.25–24.45 GHz) is being licensed as two, 100 MHz blocks; the upper segment (24.75–25.25 GHz) is licensed as five, 100 MHz blocks.

It is a clock auction, which means the price ticks up on the licenses until no more bidders will meet that price. For example, the new opening price for New York in round three (Friday at 10 a.m.) is $5,552,000.

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. There are also bidding credits for rural service, small businesses and tribal lands.

The FCC last month identified the 38 qualified bidders for the spectrum, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. But a couple of familiar names were missing: Cox and Frontier, who had initially applied but did not make the final cut. Neither can talk about why due to FCC auction rules about sharing information about an ongoing auction process.

The FCC earlier this year completed auction 101 (28 GHz spectrum), the first millimeter-wave auction, which brought in $702,572,410 for 2,965 licenses. The 24 GHz auction comprises 2,909 licenses divided up by partial economic areas.

Both auctions are intended to free up more spectrum for next generation (5G) broadband, part of the FCC's Spectrum Frontiers proceeding.

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.