The CBRS spectrum auction has now raised $4.5 billion but the pace of increase has slowed as winning CBRS auction bids in many key counties have been determined. As of late this afternoon, there were only 49 counties in which demand for licenses exceeded supply — only about 1.5 % of the 3233 counties nationwide.
The CBRS band includes spectrum between 3550-3700 MHz, 70 MHz of which is being auctioned. Seven licenses, each for 10 MHz of spectrum, are available for each county.
As of late this afternoon, according to the FCC, there were 839 counties in which supply exceeded demand, meaning that the commission received bids for less than seven licenses. In contrast, there were 2,345 counties in which demand and supply were equal. In the latter group, there may initially have been demand for more than seven licenses, but as auction rounds continued and prices climbed, some bidders dropped out or dropped the number of licenses requested until a balance was reached.
CBRS Auction Bids
More than 270 companies qualified to bid in the auction, including all major mobile carriers, as well as many smaller ones, along with cable companies, fixed wireless providers and wireline telcos planning to deploy fixed wireless service.
CBRS spectrum is considered mid-band, which many stakeholders view as offering the optimum mix of range and bandwidth. Not surprisingly, the auction got off to a strong start, surpassing the reserve price (the total of all minimum acceptable bids) on the first day and raising $1 billion within 11 days (or eight bidding days) after it began.
It took only three more bidding days for auction proceeds to hit $2 billion, two bidding days after that to hit $3 billion and another four bidding days to hit $4 billion. It has taken three more days to hit just $4.5 billion, however.
According to an informational website operated by Sasha Javid, chief operating officer for spectrum consortium Spectrum Co, LLC, the price per megahertz pop has ranged from $0.20 to $0.91 in the nation’s top 20 counties by population. All but one of these counties (Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago and some suburbs) had equal supply and demand as of late this afternoon.
Additional information about CBRS auction bids can be found on Javid’s website.