Just 11 days after it began, Auction 105 of spectrum in the CBRS band has already raised $1 billion, suggesting that ultimate auction proceeds will be on the high side of what pundits had estimated, or could even exceed most estimates.
The numbers reflect the attractiveness of mid-frequency, or mid-band, spectrum. The band, which lies between 3550 and 3700 MHz – is high enough to support fast speeds but low enough to provide coverage without the extra time and money investment required to densify cellsite infrastructure.
Estimates for how much the CBRS auction would raise ranged from as low as $3 billion to $4 billion to around $10 billion. On opening day, auction proceeds reportedly surpassed the reserve price and the pace has not slowed.
If the current pace continues — and considering that the auction is also projected to last at least two months — the early results suggest that the final number could hit or exceed the high estimate.
All major U.S. wireless companies qualified to bid in the auction, along with cable companies such as Cox, tier 2 telecom providers such as Frontier and Windstream, numerous smaller carriers and others. Companies such as Frontier and Windstream are likely to use any winnings to provide fixed wireless service as a lower-cost alternative to fiber-based broadband.
Seven CBRS licenses are being sold on a county-by-county basis, with each license comprised of 10 MHz of spectrum. Adding to the attractiveness of the CBRS band is that about half the band is available for unlicensed use, enabling companies that win spectrum to easily augment their holdings.
As of this morning, the FCC showed Auction 105 proceeds to date of $1.035 billion.