FCC's Biggest Ever Spectrum Auction Officially Closes

The FCC said its Spectrum Frontiers auction of high-band spectrum for 5G (auction 103) has now officially closed, raising $7,558,703,201, with $3,084,172,898 going to pay off existing licensees and the FCC netting $4,474,530,303. 

The biggest bidders were Straight Path Spectrum, ($3,417,133,445), FiberTower Spectrum Holdings ($2,379,103,897), and T-Mobile ($931,609,379). 

The 35 qualified bidders in the auction competed for a whopping 3,400 MHz of millimeter-wave spectrum (in the upper 37-gigahertz, 39-GHz and 47-GHz bands), the most spectrum the FCC has ever offered in an auction of any type. The spectrum — which was offered as 14,144 licenses — can be used for both fixed and mobile broadband and was auctioned in 100-megahertz blocks in partial economic areas (PEAs). 

That announcement came Thursday (March 12) following the end of the follow-on phase II of the auction, which was for winning bidders who wanted specific frequencies. 

The initial license auction ended Jan. 30. 

Winning bidder down payments are due by March 26 and final payments by April 9. 

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.