Bidders spend almost $48M on 28 GHz spectrum licenses

This map, showing results from the end of round two, indicates the general locations where bidders are looking to obtain 28 GHz spectrum licenses. (FierceWireless)

At the close of round three, the FCC’s 28 GHz spectrum auction generated almost $48 million in total provisionally winning bids. That’s a 14.55% increase from the $41.7 million raised at the close of round two.

Interestingly, the auction appeared to gain a slight amount of steam this morning, considering total bids at the end of round two yesterday afternoon rose by $5,265,450, or 14.45%. The auction’s first round generated around $36.4 million in bids yesterday morning.

At the close of round three there were 994 licenses that had not yet received bids. More than 2,000 licenses received bids at the end of round three.

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Honolulu remained the location with the most action, with bids for the 28 GHz licenses there rising to $1.2 million at the end of round three. Other popular licenses included the spectrum covering Kern, California ($1,028,000); Hidalgo, Texas ($949,000); and Brevard County, Florida ($665,000).

The FCC is not releasing the identities of the bidders, and will only do that when the auction is over.

Bidders are scheduled to hold another two rounds of bidding in the auction this afternoon—the FCC will likely increase the number of rounds per day as the auction goes on, in order to conclude the event more quickly. The auction will continue until there are no more bids.

The FCC’s current 28 GHz spectrum auction, Auction 101, isn’t expected to generate much money in total bids. That’s because Verizon already owns much of the spectrum in the band; spectrum licenses up for grabs in Auction 101 only cover around 24% of the U.S. population.

The FCC is scheduled to auction 24 GHz licenses in Auction 102 immediately after Auction 101 is finished. That auction is expected to generate far more interest because 24 GHz licenses will be available in virtually every location in the United States, including most major cities.

So far, it appears that the FCC’s 28 GHz auction won’t raise anywhere near the same amount of money as the agency’s other recent spectrum auctions. For example, the 600 MHz incentive auction of TV broadcasters’ unwanted spectrum, which concluded last year, generated almost $20 billion in bids. That was less than half of what the FCC's AWS-3 auction raised two years prior.

Nonetheless, the results of Auction 101 and 102 will be closely watched considering such spectrum has been pegged as a key component of future 5G networks.

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