Round 26: Bids Are Down, Price Is Up

The most recent round of bidding in the FCC's AWS-3 auction of 65 MHz of wireless spectrum saw fewer bids, 408, than in recent rounds, but still more than a billion dollars in new bids, pushing the total to $32,959,124,500.

Both of the reserve prices have been met (for 50 MHz of paired spectrum and 15 MHz of unpaired), so the auction is an official success and definitely a monetary one, since it has more than doubled some pre-auction estimates. Among the bidders are AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

In a joint statement Friday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and National Telecommunications & Information Administration chief Lawrence Strickling cited the success of that auction.

NTIA oversees government spectrum holders, some of whom agreed to share other spectrum so theirs could be freed up to pair with commercial spectrum in the auction.

The two have a scheduled biannual meeting on spectrum issues, which was Nov. 20. The statement was issued Friday related to that meeting and was reflective of their work product.

“The Assistant Secretary and the Chairman applauded the agencies’ joint efforts to identify and make available spectrum previously allocated to federal use," said the statement. "Years of hard effort paved the way for the AWS-3 auction, in which 70 applicants qualified to bid, and ongoing bidding appears to signal considerable commercial interest in this spectrum. NTIA and the FCC continue to work collaboratively to make additional spectrum available for wireless broadband services and devices while protecting critical federal government missions..."

The success of the AWS-3 auction relieves pressure on the broadcast incentive 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.