Bidding shows signs of slowing in 28 GHz spectrum auction

This map shows where bidding is occurring in Auction 101. (FierceWireless)

The FCC’s 28 GHz spectrum auction, dubbed Auction 101, reached $62 million in total provisionally winning bids this morning at the end of round five. However, that amount only represented a 13.54% increase over the total amount raised at the end of round four.

Since starting earlier this week with a first-round worth $36.4 million in total bids, the FCC’s auction has steady grown by around 15% each round. Specifically, round two generated 14.45% more total money bid than round one, round three generated 14.55% more money than round two and round four generated 14.73% more money in bids than round three.


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In round five, the action appeared to slow because the total amount of money that bidders pledged in provisionally winning bids rose by $7,421,500, or 13.54%.

The FCC is not releasing the identities of the bidders, and will only do that when the auction is over. The auction will continue until there are no more bids.

Honolulu remains the hottest location in terms of bidding, generating a high bid in round five of $1,679,000. Locations without much bidding activity include places like Clark, Kansas; Hodgeman, Kansas; and Dundy, Nebraska. Bids on licenses in those locations totaled a whopping $200 each at the end of round five.

RELATED: 28, 24 GHz auction primer: What to expect

Interestingly, as noted by Spectrum Financial Partners, the FCC’s 28 GHz spectrum auction has precedence. As reported by TeleGraphy, Italy recently held an auction of spectrum in the 26GHz band, broken up into five lots of 200MHz. Bidders including Vodafone and Wind each paid roughly $36 million for those licenses, which Spectrum Financial Partners calculated represents a price per MHz-POP of just $0.0031—or values far, far below what the operators paid for 700 MHz and 3.7 GHz spectrum.

That doesn’t come as a huge surprise, of course. 28 GHz and 26 GHz spectrum sits in the so-called millimeter-wave spectrum bands, spectrum that doesn’t travel very far but can transmit enormous amounts of data.

Nonetheless, such spectrum has been fingered as a key element of future 5G networks.

Although the FCC’s 28 GHz spectrum auction isn’t generating much cash, most expect the agency’s 24 GHz spectrum auction, dubbed Auction 102, to generate far more interest because those 24 GHz licenses are available in most locations across the country, including in most big cities. The 28 GHz band, meanwhile, is mostly owned by Verizon, and as a result, the FCC’s Auction 101 is only providing licenses scattered across roughly a quarter of the country.


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