The FCC’s 28 GHz spectrum auction climbed past the $600 million mark in terms of total provisionally winning bids, and bidders appeared to have been re-energized by the implementation of “Stage 2” in the event.
In Stage 1, bidders are required to be active on licenses representing at least 80% of their current bidding eligibility. In Stage 2, a bidder must be active on at least 95% of its current bidding eligibility in each round.
Stage 2 went into effect today, and action in the auction appeared to take a commensurate rise due to the new rules. Specifically, today’s rounds of bidding generally generated a 3% rise in the auction’s total provisionally winning bid amount, a notable uptick from the 1% increases recorded in the latter rounds of Stage 1.
At the end of round 45 today, bidders had pledged a total of $617 million in total provisionally winning bids. Perhaps more importantly, almost all of the licenses up for grabs have received bids; at the end of round 45, the FCC only held around 200 licenses, with the rest—almost 3,000—having received bids.
Interestingly, Dane, Wisconsin, is the location that has received the highest bid, at just over $11 million for the license there. Other popular locations include Honolulu, Hawaii; Kern, California; and Hildalgo, Texas.
The FCC will reveal the identity of the bidders when the auction is over.
This is the first time in recent history that the FCC has auctioned off so-called millimeter-wave spectrum: spectrum that essentially sits above 20 GHz. Such spectrum has long been viewed as “junk” spectrum, but in recent years its value has skyrocketed as wireless network operators look for millimeter-wave spectrum licenses for 5G networks.
However, the FCC’s current auction, dubbed Auction 101, is only offering licenses in smaller locations in around a fourth of the geographic territory of the United States. Auction 102 is scheduled to start shortly after Auction 101 ends and is scheduled to offer 24 GHz spectrum licenses in prime locations all over the country. As a result, the Wall Street analysts at Cowen predicted that Auction 102 could generate roughly $3.2 billion in provisionally winning bids.