FCC auction ends with $19.6bn worth of bids

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Total is less than the US regulator originally predicted when it launched the auction of unused broadcast spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission has brought an end to its forward spectrum auction, with total bids amounting $19.6 billion, less than originally forecasted.

When the FCC announced the auction of the broadcast spectrum, it said sellers were seeking $86.4 billion, but the final total has fallen significantly short of this.

62 bidders including the likes of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Comcast made initial payments to take part in the auction, which saw broadcasters give up 84MHz of spectrum, although only 70MHz was sold.

The broadcasters will receive around $10 billion of the total, with $7 billion going to the US Treasury for deficit reduction. 

The total could rise above $20 billion, as participants have to bid for individual frequency blocks, and this could lead to a hike in the prices.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said: “Congratulations to the winners in both the reverse and forward auctions. The participation of these broadcasters and wireless carriers will enable the Commission to release 84 megahertz of spectrum into the broadband marketplace.

These low-band airwaves will improve wireless coverage across the country and will play a particularly important role in deploying mobile broadband services in rural areas.

“Delivering on the promise of this auction will require a smooth and orderly post-auction transition. That means we must ensure uninterrupted access to over-the-air television and a timely clearing of the new wireless band. We will devote a great deal of attention to those tasks over the coming months, and it will be a top priority of mine as Chairman of this agency.