Round Five: FCC's Spectrum Auction Bids Total $10.587 Billion

With round five in the books, the FCC's forward spectrum auction has drawn $10,587,551,000, up about $350 million from the $10,133,070,000 worth of bids in the previous round.

There are 62 eligible bidders and 416 geographic areas with spectrum blocks reclaimed from broadcasters and being auctioned for wireless broadband.

The auction began Aug. 16 and will likely run at least several weeks and possibly several months.

The FCC's asking price for one of the four partial economic areas (PEAs) it has assigned licenses in top market New York was $148,838,000 in round three and was bumped up to $156,280,000 in round four. The FCC is increasing the price by 5% in each round ($164,094,000 in round six in New York, for example). So far demand has exceeded supply in most of the largest markets, but the majority of markets have yet to see more bids than blocks of spectrum available.

The FCC will need at least $88,379,558,704 to cover the cost of 1) paying broadcasters for their 126 MHz worth of spectrum, 2) paying them to move off that spectrum, and 3) paying for the auction itself. The bidding also has to meet certain price benchmarks in the top 40 PEAs if the FCC is to close the auction.

The actual bid total in round four that applies toward that $88,379,558,704 is $10,050,000,000, net of bidding credits and discounts that reduced the total by about a half a billion dollars. The net figure for round four was $9,620,000,000.

The FCC is currently holding two two-hour rounds per day but could speed the pace at any time to boost bidding.

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.