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.”