The Federal Communications Commission has officially wrapped up its first two millimeter wave spectrum auctions of the year, raising more than $2.7 billion in gross bids for more than 5,800 spectrum licenses from a total of 55 bidders. The agency is already looking ahead to its upcoming December auction of spectrum in the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands, which it said will be the largest spectrum auction in U.S. history.
The FCC said that its 24 GHz spectrum auction — aka, Auction 102 — concluded as of Tuesday afternoon, with the end of the assignment phase for spectrum blocks. Of the 2,909 licenses available in the 24.25-24.45 and 24.75-25.25 GHz band, 2,904 of them received bids. Those licenses were based on a Partial Economic Area geographic basis which divides the country into 416 sections.
Auction 102 began with a clock phase in which the 38 qualified bidders (which included AT&T, T-Mobile US, Verizon and Sprint, U.S. Cellular, Dish Network, Starry Spectrum Holdings and Windstream Communications) competed in 91 rounds that raised more than $1.988 billion in bids. The auction then continued with an assignment phase, which the FCC said was “designed to give highest priority to assigning bidders within a PEA contiguous blocks of spectrum to the extent possible and to simplify the bidding process,” the FCC has said. In the clock phase, bidders were competing for generic blocks of 24 GHz spectrum, either in the upper or lower portions of the band. In the assignment phase, the winning bidders had a chance to bid for specific spectrum blocks.
The FCC reported that as of its conclusion, Auction 102 raised $2.024 billion in bids.
The previous millimeter wave auction of 28 GHz licenses (Auction 101) concluded back in late January and raised about $700 million, but the FCC opted not to release winning bidders’ information for that auction until the 24 GHz auction was complete. The agency said that it will release a public notice within a few days for Auction 102 that provides details on the auction results and information for winning bidders on post-auction procedures, and that it will also soon put out detailed auction results for Auction 101 as well.
The FCC said that the upcoming December auction of 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz spectrum will include 3400 megahertz of spectrum up for bid.
As the millimeter wave auctions progress, the agency has since shifted its focus to opening up more mid-band spectrum for commercial use, with several proceedings underway as well as the possibility of re-examining the allocation of spectrum at 5.9 GHz which is currently set aside for intelligent automotive communications, also known as Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC).
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