Late Tuesday, the FCC announced the conclusion of the 24 GHz “Spectrum Frontiers” auction. Named auction 102, the FCC said gross bids were $2.0 billion for 2,904 of the 2,909 licenses offered. Actual bidding finished on April 17 and was followed by the assignment phase, where auction winners bid for specific frequency blocks by partial economic area.
Auction 102 followed a similar auction of 28 GHz spectrum, called auction 101, which concluded on January 24 (2019). This first millimeter wave auction raised $702 million in gross bids for 2,965 of the 3,072 licenses offered.
The two Spectrum Frontiers auctions netted more than $2.7 billion, with 55 applicants qualified to bid, and the winning bidders claiming 5,869 licenses.
The FCC will publicly release the detailed results for both auctions within a few days. Auction 101 winners have not yet been announced, since the same companies were presumably participating in both auctions.
The FCC now plans to auction spectrum at 37, 39 and 47 GHz beginning December 10. According to the commission, this spectrum auction will be the largest in U.S. history, with 3.4 GHz available.
The FCC’s strategy has been to allocate millimeter wave spectrum to support 5G, since the U.S. has a dearth of mid-band spectrum from 3 to 5 GHz available for 5G. The CBRS band and a portion of C-Band satellite spectrum have been proposed as options, although neither provides a straightforward path for 5G.
“American leadership in 5G means deploying more airwaves for the next generation of wireless connectivity. The successful conclusion of our nation’s first two high-band flexible, mobile-use spectrum auctions is a critical step. By making more spectrum available, we’ll ensure that American consumers reap the substantial benefits that 5G innovation will bring and we’ll extend U.S. leadership in 5G.” — Ajit Pai, FCC chairman