FCC Auction 101 was completed yesterday, raising $702.5 million. The 28 GHz millimeter wave auction included wide swaths of spectrum suitable for supporting 5G service at the highest speeds, but the spectrum was only available throughout a portion of the U.S. and lacked many metro markets.
The vast majority of licenses that were up for auction received provisionally winning bids – 2,965 out of just over 3,000. Licenses were auctioned by county, with two licenses available per county, each comprised of 425 MHz of spectrum.
Winners’ names will not be released until after the completion of Auction 102, the FCC said in a public notice. Auction 102 will commence soon and will include additional millimeter wave spectrum in the neighboring 24 GHz band.
28 GHz Millimeter Wave Auction
Forty entities qualified to bid in the 28 GHz millimeter wave auction, including AT&T and T-Mobile but not Sprint or Verizon. Verizon already owns a large amount of spectrum in the 28 GHz band. Also on the qualified bidder list were Frontier, U.S. Cellular, Windstream, numerous small wireless carriers and other entities.
The spectrum can be used for fixed or mobile service, and companies such as Frontier and Windstream are likely interested in using it for fixed service. Earlier this month, Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said the company expects to use millimeter wave spectrum to support fixed wireless speeds of 1 Gbps.
The 28 GHz millimeter wave auction proceeds exceeded at least one estimate. In a report prepared for the Competitive Carriers Association, Telecom Advisory Services forecast the auction to generate between $41 million and $1.1 billion, with the most likely scenario being about $561 million.
Many of the same carriers that qualified to bid in the 28 GHz auction are also expected to bid in the 24 GHz auction. And although Verizon sat out the 28 GHz, it submitted a complete application to bid in the 24 GHz auction.
That auction will include seven blocks of 100 MHz of spectrum per partial economic area (PEA).