After four rounds, the FCC's auction of advanced wireless spectrum (AWS-3 auction) has drawn $2,851,482,100 in bids, which is $414,460,100 more than had been bid in round three.
Round four saw 901 new bids for 1,141 of a total of 1,614 licenses divided into geographic areas. Among the bidders who qualified to participate are AT&T and T-Mobile.
The bidding could go on for days, weeks or even months. Bidding continues until nobody bids in a round or exercises a waiver, which means it is passing but wants the chance to bid again.
In the AWS-3 auction, 65 MHz of spectrum is up for bid, part of a congressional—and White House—mandate to free up wireless spectrum for mobile broadband.
It will be the largest amount of spectrum auctioned since the FCC's 2008 700 MHz auction.
AWS-3 is the second of three spectrum auctions mandated by Congress to fund the FirstNet interoperable broadband network, as well as local first responders, advanced 911, R&D and deficit reduction.
The first auction, of H block spectrum, collected $1.564 billion toward that goal (FirstNet alone is $7 billion), but the FCC is already predicting that the AWS-3 auction will raise most if not all of that $7 billion, putting less pressure on the third auction, the broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for 2016.
If the FCC meets its reserves in the AWS-3 auction, it will more than cover that. The aggregate reserve for the 65 MHz is $10.587 billion—actually it is two separate reserves of $580 million and $10.007 billion.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
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.