Bidding in the FCC’s ongoing auction of wireless broadband licenses in the Advanced Wireless Service (AWS)-3 band continued this week with total bids exceeding $43 billion on Wednesday in spite of a much slower pace.
Achieved after 18 days and 79 rounds, the provisional winning bid amount of $43.2 billion more than doubles the previous record of $19 billion posted six years ago in the 700 MHz auction. During Round 79, the FCC received 110 bids that totaled $53.9 million. Among the 1,614 available licenses, eight currently have no bids. To speed up the auction and help move the auction toward its conclusion, the FCC shifted to Stage Two rules at the start of Round 68, thus requiring participants to place new bids on 95% of the spectrum for which they are qualified in order to preserve eligibility for further activity. (Previously, participants had been required to place new bids on 80% of their spectrum to retain eligibility.) At this time, the FCC is also implementing six 30-minute bid rounds daily instead of four one hour rounds per day as per previous practice.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the FCC announced this week that it would extend comment and reply deadlines in its ongoing proceeding to amend the agency’s competitive bidding procedures to enable respondents to factor in the results of the AWS-3 auction (Auction 97). Included among the proposals in the competitive bidding rulemaking document are (1) a ban on joint bidding arrangements among the top national wireless carriers, and (2) a repeal of the attributable material relationship rule affecting designated entities. Announcing an extension of the comment deadline from December 29 to January 23, the FCC predicted that its decision “will increase the likelihood that interested parties will be able to take into account more complete information about the results of bidding in Auction 97 and thereby promote a more comprehensive record in this proceeding.”