Bidding in 28 GHz spectrum pauses for Thanksgiving holiday

Honolulu attracted the highest bid of all during the 14th round, netting a $6,035,000 bid. (Pixabay)

The FCC has temporarily paused bidding in its 28 GHz spectrum auction to give interested parties a break over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend or at least ensure their full attention once bidding resumes Nov. 26. The total amount of provisionally winning bids reached $145,136,710 at the end of round 14.

Prior to the short break in action, growth in the total amount bid has waned with each subsequent round of bidding. Bids in round 14, like the nine previous rounds of bidding, grew at a smaller rate than in the round before it.

The decline in growth could be a troubling pattern if it holds through the remainder of the auction, but the total bid amounts continue to increase and interest doesn’t seem to be fading as the figures climb higher. The total amount bid to date is now nearly four times greater than the first round. When Auction 101 kicked off on Nov. 14, the first round of bidding ended with a total amount of $36,428,510 in provisionally winning bids.

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The final round of bidding before the holiday break represented a 7.44% increase from the previous round. Meanwhile, round-to-round percentage increases have been in the single digits since the 10th round.

Honolulu attracted the highest bid of all during the 14th round, netting a $6,035,000 bid for a spectrum license in the Hawaiian capital. During the latest round, 13 markets attracted bids in the seven-figure range. One bidder in particular appears to be making a determined push for spectrum licenses in Pennsylvania where six locations—Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton and York—reached bids higher than $1 million.

Other markets that generated the highest bids during the latest round include Hidalgo, Texas ($2.8 million); Kern, California ($2.6 million); Volusia, Florida ($1.8 million); El Paso, Colorado ($1.12 million); and Cameron, Texas ($1.1 million).

Auction 101, which covers 1.55 gigahertz of high-band spectrum, is a critical asset for the deployment of 5G, internet of things services and other next-generation technologies, according to the FCC. When bidding resumes Nov. 26, the FCC is scheduled to continue conducting four rounds of bidding per day.

The auction will end when there are no more bids, so if action doesn’t pick up soon the 28 GHz spectrum auction could conclude in lackluster fashion. Numerous locations are still collecting bids as low as $220, but auctions are unpredictable and bidding could intensify after the 40 qualified bidders get back to work after the holiday weekend.

The 28 GHz auction, and soon-to-follow 24 GHz auction, were expected to pull in billions of dollars for the U.S. Treasury. It’s unclear at this point just how much higher bidding will go and if the spectrum auction for 24 GHz spectrum, dubbed Auction 102, will generate greater interest. However, because the 28 GHz band is already mostly owned by Verizon, the current auction is limited to a scattering of licenses across roughly a quarter of the country. The 24 GHz licenses being auctioned off in Auction 102 will cover most locations in the country, including its largest cities.