The C-band spectrum auction raised just under $5 billion in its first four days. FCC data shows strong demand for most license areas in the auction of mid-band spectrum in the 3.7 GHz band. For perspective, C-Band auction proceeds have already surpassed the total $4.5 billion raised in the recent CBRS auction.
Bidders in the auction include all major U.S. wireless carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon) as well as smaller mobile and fixed wireless providers and three major cable companies – Charter, Comcast and Cox. There are 57 bidders in total.
C-band Auction License Areas
Licenses in the C-band auction will be issued by partial economic area (PEA), of which there are 406 in the U.S. Fourteen licenses, each for 20 MHz of spectrum, are available in each PEA.
The spectrum is currently used by satellite providers that use it primarily for distribution of video content. Those providers no longer need the entire band and have agreed to move to a portion of the band in exchange for payment of nearly $10 billion in total.
In 46 of the 50 largest PEAs, the satellite providers have agreed to make 100 MHz of spectrum (five licenses) available by December 5, 2021. For the remaining 180 MHz in those PEAs and the full 280 MHz in other PEAs, the clearing date is December 5, 2023.
FCC data divides licenses into 452 “products.” In the 46 PEAs that have early clearing, licenses for the five spectrum bands that will be cleared first are considered a single product and the remaining licenses are a separate product. All 14 licenses for each of the other 360 PEAs are considered a single product.
According to FCC data, there are 50 products for which demand for licenses is less than supply. Most likely these bids are for licenses areas that are not among the 46 slated for early clearing, which would mean that fewer than 14 licenses in those areas received bids.
As of day’s end Friday, 12 rounds had been completed in the auction. For 34 products, all licenses potentially had been won because demand for them matched supply
That leaves 368 products for which demand still exceeds supply.
There isn’t enough information to estimate the percentage of total proceeds represented by the nearly $5 billion raised to date, but clearly that figure represents a small portion of what the auction ultimately will raise.
Estimates of how much the auction will raise are in the tens of billions of dollars.
Telecompetitor will continue to track the C-band auction and will provide updates as the auction progresses.
Updated to clarify that licenses potentially have been won in areas where license demand and supply are equal.