The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of millimeter wave spectrum at 28 GHz has concluded after 176 rounds, having raised nearly $702.6 million in provisionally winning bids.
According to the FCC, the identities of winning bidders will not be made public until after the end of Auction 102, the upcoming auction of mmWave licenses at 24.25–24.45 GHz and 24.75–25.25 GHz. The agency said it would announce the start date for Auction 102 bidding next week.
Auction 101, which went on for 38 days of bidding despite the partial government shutdown, a holiday break and a brief pause due to winter weather in the Washington, D.C. area, ended with provisionally winning bids on 2,965 licenses out of the 3,072 licenses available, leaving just 107 licenses still held by the FCC.
“It is clear that bidders placed real value in the 28 GHz spectrum,” said Rick Engelman, an engineering consultant for law firm Wiley Rein, in comments on the close of the auction. “The FCC received numerous bids for most licenses, with bids reaching prices that rivaled, and in some cases exceeded, those reportedly paid in private 28 GHz transactions.”
Auction 101 included licenses in two 425-megahertz blocks of spectrum at 27.5 – 27.925 GHz and 27.925 – 28.350 GHz. Forty qualified bidders participated.
The licenses with the top 10 provisionally winning bids are all in pairs:
-Two licenses covering Dane, Wisconsin for $12.5 million and $11.4 million.
-Honolulu, Hawaii licenses: $10.3 million and $10 million
-Linn, Iowa licenses: $9.9 million and $9.8 million
-Kern, California licenses: $8.7 million and $8.6 million
-Hidalgo, Texas licenses: $8.2 million and $7.2 million
With significant amounts of millimeter wave spectrum already held by carriers such as Verizon (which beat out AT&T in a bidding war for Straight Path that was driven by its high-band spectrum holdings) and AT&T (which acquired Fibertower and its mmWave spectrum holdings), Auction 101 wasn’t expected to be a record-breaker for money raised, although FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said that this spectrum “will be critical in deploying 5G services and applications.” A few licenses went for as low as $200, and quite a number of licenses have provisionally winning bids of less than $5,000. Fewer than 200 licenses had winning bids of $1 million or more.
“The Auction 101 results provide a clear indication that the wireless industry views millimeter wave spectrum as an important part of our country’s 5G future,” said Ari Meltzer, partner with Wiley Rein, in a statement on the auction’s close. “From Honolulu, Hawaii to Fulton, Illinois, bidders continued to recognize the need for more spectrum to satisfy our nation’s growing demand for wireless services.”