Round 43 in 28 GHz Auction is Big One

In the first round of the FCCs stage-two effort to speed the 28 GHz auction the prompting appeared to work, though the action the FCC spurred included the withdrawal of 13 bids.

The auction had appeared to need some goosing. In the previous six rounds, only two additional licenses total had been bid on. In round 43 alone, that number jumped to 139 additional license bids.

The FCC is requiring bidders to be more active or risk losing the ability to bid. As of stage 43, there was $21,000,670 more in provisional winning bids (PWBs) than in round 42 Tuesday (Dec. 4)--there was a pause for the National Day of Mourning over the death of President George H.W. Bush. That was the biggest one-round jump since the auction began Nov. 14.

As of round 43, there were PWBs on 2,859 licenses out of a total 3,072 available. The PWB total for the entire auction is $579,198,880. The FCC is looking for wireless carriers to boost their spectrum holdings as they prepare to roll out 5G service at speeds that should make wireless an undisputed full-fledged competitor to wired broadband.

There are 40 qualified bidders competing for the 28 GHz spectrum, including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, but none of the major cable operators eyeing wireless plays--though Cox is signed up for the 24 GHz auction of spectrum for 5G, which has larger license sizes and which will begin as soon as the 28 GHz auction ends.

The FCC concedes it has never pushed so much spectrum into the market at one time before, which could mean those lower prices, but the point is to get the spectrum out there "fast" given that wireless carriers have been talking up the need for speed and bandwidth for an internet of everything, 5G world.

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.