FCC's 24 GHz Auction Tops $400 Million

After seven rounds, the FCC's latest 5G wireless spectrum auction (auction 102) has drawn bids totaling $429,753,635. After day one of the auction March 14, the total was $304,359,080, so that translates to $125 million more bid in less than two additional days of bidding.

New York continued to draw the highest bid--$7,391,000--with the round-eight bid starting at $8,131,000. 

Auction 102 is a two-phased auction, beginning with a so-called clock auction, in which the FCC ticks up the price after each round until there are no more bids. Bidding is on generic blocks, with a follow-on auction to determine the specific frequencies, as there was with the FCC broadcast incentive auction.

There are 2,909 licenses up for auction in the 24 GHz (millimeter wave) band.

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 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.