Snowy weather in the Washington, D.C. area has led the Federal Communications Commission to suspend today’s scheduled bidding in its millimeter wave auction.
The auction, which has been proceeding despite the partial government shutdown, had been slated to move into its third stage today, with six rounds of bidding to be held as it continues to inch toward conclusion. (The FCC is among the agenciesBut with government offices closed due to the severe weather, there will be no bidding today and the auction will resume tomorrow.
The auction has raised $695,042,800 in bids thus far. Bidding increases in each round are coming in anywhere from nearly $500,00 to as low as around $1,000.
Auction 101 includes just over 3,000 county-based licenses in two 425-megahertz blocks of spectrum at 27.5 – 27.925 GHz and 27.925 – 28.350 GHz. Bidding began with forty qualified bidders. The auction kicked off with a burst of activity, raising $36.4 million in bids during the first round, followed by tepid bidding that never reached more than about $11 million per round before bidding was paused for Thanksgiving. But after Thanksgiving, bids picked up, with the dollar figure for each round of bidding running between $16 million to $20 million per round.
Just 138 licenses have not yet received bids. That number was down as low as 130, but some bids have been withdrawn, including five withdrawn bids at the end of the last round on Friday.
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: $9.7 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 isn’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 are going for as low as $200, and quite a number of licenses have provisionally winning bids of less than $5,000.