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FCC's 28 GHz Auction Resumes

The FCC's 28 GHz auction resumed Monday with the second-biggest increase in bid totals--$11,349,000 in round 15 to $156,485,710, up 7.82% over round 14--since the auction began Nov. 14.

To date, 2,393 provisionally winning bids (PWBs) have been placed on the county-sized licenses (or over 70% of the total 3,072 licenses), leaving the FCC with 679 licenses that have either not yet drawn bids or had been withdrawn in an earlier round--their were no withdrawals in round 15--and have not been re-bid.

PWBs are licenses that would go to those bidders if the auction were to end immediately.

The FCC is looking to get the spectrum into the hands of wireless broadband providers for 5G. There are no cable broadband providers in this auction, though Cox is lined up to bid in the 24 GHz auction that will begin as soon as this auction ends.

Together, there is more spectrum in both auctions than currently being used by all wireless carriers combined a the FCC tries to meet the needs of an "internet of everything" world.

The FCC concedes it has never pushed so much spectrum into the market at one time before, which could mean lower prices, but the point is to get the spectrum out there "fast."

There are performance requirements to build out the spectrum, and the officials signaled the FCC has been and will be more vigorous in enforcing its construction deadlines and signaled the FCC would frown on companies sitting on their spectrum and seeking waivers at the last minute. They said the requirement for a waiver of the buildout deadlines is "extraordinary circumstances," which is a high hurdle.

The 28 GHz auction (auction 101) is offering two, 425 MHz, blocks divided into 3,072 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) county-sized licenses in the 27.5–28.35 GHz band.

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.