The C Band auction has raised $3.385 billion after eight rounds of bidding. Auction 107 (aka the 3.7 GHz service auction) shifts to four rounds of bidding today.
That total puts the C Band auction on track to quickly exceed the amount raised by the sale of CBRS Priority Access Licenses, which totaled nearly $4.6 billion in bids and lasted for 76 rounds.
The most hotly contested market continues to be the Baltimore-Washington DC Partial Economic Area (PEA), with 41 of the 57 qualified bidders competing for the 14 available licenses in the PEA. Those licenses were going for nearly $9.2 million each as of the close of round 8.
The most expensive licenses, as is typical, are those in the densest metropolitan areas: New York City ($29.5 million per sub-block), Los Angeles, CA ($22.7 million), Chicago, IL ($11 million) and San Francisco, CA ($10.6 million) all have licenses going for at least $10 million apiece.
On a price per megahertz-POP basis, however, the licenses in less-populated PEAs are pricier. According to analysis by Sasha Javid, CEO of BitPath and formerly lead of the Federal Communications Commission’s auction team, the most expensive PEAs on a price per megahertz-POP are Greenville, SC; Oklahoma City, OK; Las Vegas, NV; Milwaukee, WI and Austin, TX.
The C Band spectrum will provide an injection of highly desired midband spectrum for 5G deployment in the U.S., with greater available capacity than other sub-6 GHz airwaves and better propagation characteristics than millimeter wave.
The 3.7 GHz service is divided into 5,684 licenses, or 14 sub-blocks in each of 406 available Partial Economic Areas across the United States. The A block consists of 100 megahertz (five 20-megahertz sub-blocks) from 3.7-3.8 GHz; that spectrum will be the first to be cleared, expected by December 2021. The B block consists of 100 megahertz (five 20-megahertz sub-blocks) from 3.8-3.9 GHz) and the C block makes up the final 80 megahertz with four 20-megahertz sub-blocks; that spectrum is slated to be cleared by December 2023. There is a 20-megahertz guard band at 3.98-4.0 GHz; satellite operators will move their operations into the top 200 megahertz of the band from 4.0-4.2 GHz.
MITRE, a non-profit organization not-for-profit organization that manages several federally funded research and development centers, has a spectrum valuation tool that has estimated that the C Band auction will raise between $25-$30 billion — more than auctions such as the $20 billion 600 MHz broadcast auction, but not as much as the blockbuster AWS-3 auction, which raised nearly $45 billion.