700 MHz spectrum auction: That's a wrap!

After 261 rounds of bidding and more than $19.59 billion in provisionally winning bids, the 700 MHz auction (officially Auction 73) is over. Four out of the five spectrum blocks achieved their reserve prices, which enabled the auction to more than double expected revenues: the congressional estimate for the auction was $10.2 billion. During the past 15 years the FCC has conducted 68 spectrum auctions, which collectively generated $19.1 billion. Not only did the 700 MHz auction raise more money than any FCC spectrum auction before it, the latest auction managed to raise more than every other auction combined. The proceeds from the auction will be transferred to the U.S. Treasury by the end of June, and, according to the FCC, the money raised will support public safety and the digital television transition.

The four spectrum blocks that met their reserve prices were the Upper C Block, the A Block, B Block and the E Block. The winning bids for the C Block were on the 12 regional licenses that make it up rather than the nationwide package. The 12 bids total $4.75 billion, more than the C Block's reserve of $4.6 billion. Provisionally winning bids on the A, B, and E Blocks were $3.96 billion, $9.14 billion and $1.27 billion, respectively. Those three blocks collectively more than doubled their reserve price of $8.72 billion.

The D Block, of course, languished during the 700 MHz spectrum auction, with only one bid during the first round. Because the bid was well under the block's $1.3 billion reserve price. In a statement yesterday, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that "the FCC is now evaluating its options for this spectrum" and that "the Commission remains committed to ensuring that we work to solve public safety's interoperability challenges." No word yet on whether the FCC will start Auction 76, the Plan B auction which was to take place after Auction 73 in the case that a spectrum block failed to meet its reserve price. The FCC will have to decide which rules if any it would remove from the D Block and/or what it's new reserve price should be.

The FCC will announce the winning bidders in the coming weeks.