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3 June 2019

The FCC’s 24 GHz auction raises £2bn, third mmWave sale to follow

The latest US spectrum auction, for 24 GHz spectrum (Auction 102), concluded on Tuesday, hard on the heels of its 28 GHz predecessor.

“American leadership in 5G means deploying more airwaves for the next generation of wireless connectivity,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “The successful conclusion of our nation’s first two high band flexible, mobile-use spectrum auctions is a critical step.”

Together, the two millimeter wave auctions raised more than $2.7bn in gross bids. Combined, 55 applicants were qualified to bid, and the winning bidders won 5,869 licenses. Auction 101 ended with a total of $702.6m in gross bids, while Auction 102, which offered spectrum in far more markets, raised just over $2bn. The names of the winners have not yet been released.

The FCC said it would release a public notice next week providing detailed auction results and notifying Auction 102 winning bidders of deadlines for payments. A public notice will also be released announcing the detailed results of the 28 GHz sale, which were kept private until the end of the second process.

Later this year, the US will hold Auction 103, which will cover the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands. This will be the largest auction in the nation’s history in terms of the amount of spectrum, with 3,400 MHz available, but unlikely to be its biggest in terms of revenues, since high capacity bands attract lower prices (per-MHz/POP or even absolute) than the less plentiful, and more coveted, lower bands.