After 35 rounds, total provisional bids in the FCC’s ongoing auction of Advanced Wireless Service (AWS)-3 licenses amounted to a staggering $37.4 billion as of late yesterday.
While there is no immediate end to the activity in sight, the pace of bidding has slowed as new bids were posted during the latest round on just 251 of the 1614 available licenses. The FCC’s auction website also depicted an increase in the bid total of less than one percent that contrasts sharply with the double-digit percentage increases of a week ago. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that the AWS-3 sale will likely surpass the $40 billion mark, and the record bid tally has induced some notable auction participants to raise additional funds they will eventually need to cover their winning bids. Following on AT&T’s decision last week to launch a €3.8 billion (U.S. $4.74 billion) bond offering for “general corporate purposes,” Verizon confirmed plans on Monday to raise nearly $3 billion in debt to be used toward spectrum acquisitions. DISH Network, which is bidding under the name of American AWS-3 Wireless, is also reported to have completed a debt offering of $2 billion.
House leaders, meanwhile, stood in awe of the auction results, which will bring in enough funds to pay off both the “FirstNet” nationwide public safety broadband network and the spectrum relocation costs of federal agencies that currently use the AWS-3 band. Touting the AWS-3 auction as “a remarkable success,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) told reporters that the auction has “proved that increased cooperation between the many parts of our government can result in better spectrum use, more resources to fuel the cutting-edge communications tools of the 21st century, and a return on investment for the American people.”