The bidding in the clock phase of the FCC’s C-band spectrum auction has ended. In all, FCC Auction 107 grossed more than $80.9 billion, almost double the previous auction record of $44.9 billion.
Bidders won all 5,684 spectrum blocks up for bid in the auction, which makes available the total — 280 MHz of spectrum in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band – that had been put in play.
The commission said that it was the largest auction of mid-band 5G spectrum and the highest grossing spectrum auction ever held in the United States.
“These results represent a strong endorsement by the private sector of the service rules and transition plan put in place by the FCC to quickly make the C-band a critical part of 5G rollout in the United States,” outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a press release. “As a result, we significantly advanced United States leadership in 5G and have enabled America’s wireless consumers to more quickly benefit from 5G services.”
The C-Band spectrum auction figured to raise a lot of money from the start in early December, though it clearly exceeded expectations. In all, 57 entities, including the big three carriers, smaller carriers, fixed wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) and others queued up at the starting line.
Telecompetitor’s Joan Engebretson reported at that point that MITRE expected the auction to raise about $25 billion, while New Street Research forecasted a haul of $51 billion.
Later in the month, the law firm of Keller & Heckman said that the C-Band spectrum auction already had dethroned the AWS auction as the highest grossing spectrum auction ever. With about a week to go in 2020, there were 33 “products” in which demand and supply were equal and 419 in which demand exceeded supply.
Earlier this month, Pai suggested that $50 billion of the money raised go to the Universal Service Fund (USF). That program covers some of the costs of providing voice and broadband to rural areas. It also handles some school, library, rural connectivity and low-income connectivity costs.
Next comes the assignment phase of the auction, in which winners will be able to bid for frequency-specific licenses. The FCC soon will release a public notice with information on the date and time of the bidding and other information for this phase.