FCC’s Latest 5G Spectrum Auction Adds $600 Million-Plus in Assignment Phase

5g artistic rendering
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission picked up a little more than $600 million in additional gross revenue from its auction of 3.45-GHz midband spectrum for 5G wireless uses.

That is according to the FCC’s accounting of the auction’s gross proceeds after the assignment phase, which officially ended the auction earlier this month at $22,513,601,811 in combined gross proceeds for both the clock and assignment phases.

The gross proceeds in the clock phase alone, which closed in November, were $21,888,007,794.

In the assignment phase, winning bidders who wished to could bid — online or by phone — for specific frequencies. Those who chose not to participate in the follow-on assignment auction still got contiguous frequencies that correspond to the number of blocks they won.

With the assignment phase over, the FCC will be publishing a list of the winning clock phase auction bidders, which were not made public while the assignment phase of the auction was still ongoing due to competitive concerns.

Among those bidding were AT&T, Verizon Communications and T-Mobile, but no big cable broadband names. Cable broadband operators had warned that the way the auction was structured — specifically the license sizes — would discourage them from bidding.

The FCC auctioned 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band that the Department of Defense said it was willing to give up/share so long as its operations — radar, for example — are protected from interference. Winners can use the spectrum for either fixed or mobile service.

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.