H Block Tally: Total Has Topped $1.2 Billion

With 40 rounds completed, the FCC's H block auction bid total stands at $1.21 billionwith 95 new bids in the last round and all 176 licenses having drawn multiple bids.

Dish has pledged that the auction will at least hit an aggregate $1.56 billion which it promised in exchange for getting a waiver for more flexible use of an adjacent spectrum band, which it said it would need in order to bid in the H block auction.

Licenses in the top three markets currently represent well over a third of all the money bid so far. The bid for spectrum in New York is just $217 billion (no new bids in this round; Los Angeles is $166.8 million (one new bid); Chicago at 87.2 million (no new bids).

The H block is one of three mandated by Congress to free up spectrum for wireless broadband, culminating in the broadcast incentive auction targeted for mid-year 2015. The money from all the auctions is primarily going to fund an interoperable first responder network dubbed FirstNet. The more money raised in the first two auctions, the less pressure there is on the broadcast incentive auction.

The auction won't be over until there is one round with no new bids, withdrawn bids or waivers (there were no waivers or withdrawals in round 31, and 48 new bids). After which if the FCC's reserve price were not met, the auction would close and the FCC would have to regroup.

But the expectation is that there will be at least one bidder per round--Dish--until that aggregate minimum is reached.

By statute the spectrum has to be auctioned and reassigned by next year.

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.