FCC details plans for 24 GHz spectrum auction

FCC 24 GHz spectrum auction map ( Stephen Wilkus / Spectrum Financial Partners)
The 24 GHz spectrum auction is expected to generate heightened interest with many licenses covering heavily populated areas. (Stephen Wilkus/Spectrum Financial Partners)

The FCC is ready to auction off more spectrum. Bidding in Auction 102, which includes 2,909 upper microwave flexible use service licenses in the 24.25-24.45 GHz and 24.75-25.25 GHz band, is scheduled to begin on March 14.

The 24 GHz spectrum auction comes on the heels of a 28 GHz spectrum auction that concluded last week. It is also expected to generate much more interest and higher bid totals because the licenses up for grabs include more heavily populated areas around the country. Auction 101 generated a total of $702,572,410 in provisionally winning bids, but Auction 102 is expected to reach well into the billions.

A public notice (PDF) issued by the FCC outlines the requirements and pre-auction process for prospective bidders. The agency received 60 applications for the forthcoming auction and deemed 58 to be complete (PDF). Upfront payments from those preapproved applicants are now due by Feb. 19.

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Among the preapproved applicants, subsidiaries and partners of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Cox Communications and Frontier are all on board. All parties must now calculate a sufficient and refundable upfront deposit to establish eligibility to bid in the upcoming auction. Moreover, each applicant must submit an upfront deposit that is sufficient to bid on at least one block in one of the license areas it designated in a previous form submitted to the FCC.

As was the case with the recently closed Auction 101, the 24 GHz spectrum will not be interrupted or delayed in the event of any future partial government shutdown. FCC staffers who run spectrum auctions are paid out of proceeds from auctions.

The FCC will make a bidding tutorial available online no later than Feb. 15 and has a mock auction scheduled for March 11. Formal bidding is scheduled to commence on March 14.

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