FCC's AWS-3 Auction Tops $38 Billion

The FCC's AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction took a break for the Thanksgiving holiday after racking up an impressive bid total.

After its last round (the 37th) on Wednesday (Nov. 26), the auction had generated $38,196,517,300 in provisional bids, including 127 new bids totaling 4367,512,600.

The reserve for the auction was $10.587 billion.

the auction will continue until there are no more bids or waivers in any single round. Verizon and AT&T are predicted to get the lion's share of the spectrum.

While the auction will almost certainly be a record-breaker — the previous top money-getter was the 700 MHz auction at $18.9 billion — it is not officially one just yet.

All the bids are provisional winning bids, as witness the fact that a few of them have been withdrawn and the spectrum back in the FCC's hands, at least until another bid is offered up.

But even after the auction officially closes — no more bids or waivers — the total is not official.

There is a down payment deadline 10 days after the FCC issues a public notice announcing the close of the auction. Bidders already had to make an upfront payment, which combined with the down payment has to total 20% of the winning bid price.

Actually, given the holiday season, the FCC has set that down payment deadline at Jan. 7 or 10 days after auction ends, whichever is later.

Winning bidders also have to file a long-form application for the licenses within 10 days after the end of the auction.

But wait, there's more. The FCC reviews those forms and then issues a public notice saying they are in and reviewed, after which the public can file petitions challenging the auction.

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.