Round Three: FCC's Spectrum Auction Generates $9.7 Billion in Bids

With round three under its belt, the forward portion of the FCC's spectrum incentive auction has now generated $9,700,723,000 in bids.

Actually, with discounts and bidding credits to eligible entities including minority and women-owned businesses, the figure is $9,210,000,000.

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 round three total is up about $660 million over round two, when $9,038,042,000 was bid (net $8,570,000) for the formerly broadcast spectrum, offered in 416 partial economic areas, or PEAs.

It is a marathon, not a sprint, and the auction is expected to take up to several months before the FCC knows whether it can cover that figure or will have to lower its spectrum sights to 114 MHz and resume the reverse portion of the auction. The FCC designed the auction for multiple spectrum clearing targets if the first is not met.

Currently the FCC is conducting two rounds per day of two hours apiece, 10-12 a.m. and 2-4 p.m., but that number could be increased and the length shortened as the auction progresses as a way to speed the bidding process.

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.