FCC halts spectrum auction after $23bn of bids

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Total bids in stage one were significantly less than $88 billion target set by the US regulator

Bidding in the first stage of the Federal Communications Commission’s 600MHz incentive auction hit $23 billion, significantly short of the $88 billion target.

The FCC brought the US auction to an abrupt halt on August 30 as forward-bidding activity fell below the level needed to continue, slowing to less than $1 billion in new winning bids per round.

The $23 billion raised during the 27 rounds was nowhere near the $88 billion in total auction proceeds required to pay television broadcasters the $86 billion they wanted for the spectrum assets.

Before grinding to a halt, stage one had cleared a total of 126MHz of spectrum, with up to 100MHz of spectrum still available.

The FCC confirmed the auction process will move on to stage two and lower the clearing target from 126MHz to 114MHz.

“The FCC will release a public notice announcing details about the next stage, including the clearing target for stage two, and the time and date at which bidding in stage two of the reverse auction will begin,” the FCC noted.

Round two will begin on September 13 and will open up with one round of bidding on the opening day. This will then fall into two two-hour rounds a day, from 10am to noon, and 3pm to 5pm, as part of a reverse auction aimed at broadcasters.

Bidding in the stage two forward auction is set to begin the next working day after the reverse auction closes, with up to 90MHz being made available for forward bidding.

Among the 62 qualified bidders were Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Sprint announced last year it would again sit out of the competitive bidding process.