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Auction 101 sees post-holiday bidding spree

Bidders in the Federal Communications Commission’s current auction of millimeter wave spectrum seemed to be in the mood to shop this week, with the auction seeing increased action as it closes out its first week of four daily rounds of bidding. Auction 101 has now raised nearly $391 million in bids over nine days of bidding, with another four rounds of bidding to be held today.

Auction 101 includes just over 3,000 county-based licenses in two 425-megahertz blocks of spectrum at 27.5 – 27.925 GHz and 27.925 – 28.350 GHz. Bidding began with forty qualified bidders and had garnered more than $62.2 million in bid after five rounds.

The auction kicked off with a burst of activity, raising $36.4 million in bids during the first round, followed by tepid bidding that never reached more than about $11 million per round before bidding was paused for Thanksgiving. But perhaps the holiday shopping bug has bitten bidders this week: the dollar figure for each round began picking up on Tuesday and is now running between $16 million to $20 million per round.

More than 2,500 licenses have now received bids, with the FCC still holding 523 licenses.

Notable new developments in the most recent round include:

-Two licenses covering Linn, Iowa both received new bids of $3.5 million.

-A Kern, California license received the highest bid of the round, at $7.4 million.

-A license covering Hidalgo, Texas was bid up to $7 million.

-53 bids were withdrawn during the 30th bidding round, an unusually high number; most rounds have had no bid withdrawals, or less than a handful.

The most popular — and expensive — licenses continue to be the two that cover Honolulu, Hawaii. Both of those licenses have been bid to just over $10 million.

With significant amounts of millimeter wave spectrum already held by carriers such as Verizon (which beat out AT&T in a bidding war for Straight Path that was driven by its high-band spectrum holdings) and AT&T (which acquired Fibertower and its mmWave spectrum holdings), Auction 101 isn’t expected to be a record-breaker for money raised, although FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said that this spectrum “will be critical in deploying 5G services and applications.”

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