After 12 rounds, the Federal Communications Commission’s 24 GHz auction has garnered nearly $605 million in bids.
Unsurprisingly, the most hotly contested licenses are those covering New York City and Los Angeles, California. The top bids for New York licenses currently sit at $14.4 million, $13 million and $11.9 million, while blocks in Los Angeles are going for as much as $11 million, $10 million and $9.1 million.
Auction 102 offers up nearly 3,000 licenses in the 24.25– 24.45 and 24.75–25.25 GHz band. The licenses up for bid are based on a Partial Economic Area geographic basis which divides the country into 416 sections. Seven blocks of 100 megahertz will be available in nearly all of the licensed markets. The FCC noted in its auction information that the G block in some markets is completely or partially encumbered, so in a few PEAs in Arizona and Nevada, only six blocks are available.
Three rounds of clock-phase bidding are being held each day at this stage in the auction. The clock auction format being with a “clock phase” that lets participants bid on generic blocks in each Partial Economic Area in successive bidding rounds, followed by an “assignment phase” that allows the winners of the generic blocks to bid for frequency-specific license assignments.
Thirty-eight bidders qualified to participate in the auction, including AT&T, T-Mobile US, Verizon and Sprint (bidding as ATI Sub LLC); U.S. Cellular; Dish Network, bidding as Crestone Wireless; Starry Spectrum Holdings and Windstream Communications, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection in the wake of a court case.
The auction is proceeding in spite of bipartisan objections from several House members, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which have expressed concern to the FCC that the agency is pushing ahead with 5G development that could potentially impact weather data collection operations in adjacent bands and hamper the nation’s weather forecasting capabilities.
The FCC is making a total of 1.55 gigahertz of spectrum available through auctions 101 (which concluded in late January after raising $702 million) and 102. The agency plans to hold three more mmWave auctions during 2019, covering spectrum at 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz.
Although the FCC has usually makes winning bidders public shortly after the close of an auction, the winning bidders from Auction 101 will not be publicly named until after the close of Auction 102.