FCC to Speed Up Spectrum Auction Bidding

Bid total at $19.4 billion as last day of four one-hour rounds begins

Bidders in round 37 of stage four of the forward portion of the FCC's spectrum auction pushed the total to $19,410,736,548 late Monday afternoon, up from $19,385,151,536 in round 36 and $19,354,875,595 in round 35.

Tuesday will be the final day of four-rounds-per-day bidding, an hour per round. On Wednesday, the FCC is upping it to six 40-minute rounds to try to move the auction to its conclusion.

The auction has already met its benchmarks for closing after this stage, which are the broadcasters' $10 billion asking price, the $1.9 billion in auction expenses and a TV station repack fund being covered and a minimum price for spectrum in the top 40 markets was met.

But the auction will continue until there is no more bidding in any of the 416 markets.

On Feb. 8, the first round will be from 10 a.m. to 10:40 a.m., with the next round beginning 20 minutes later (at 11 a.m.) and so on through the end of round six at 4:40 p.m. The asking price for the spectrum—seven 10 MHz blocks in each market, increases by 10%.

With broadcasters' portion of the auction over, the FCC is waiving its "no communications" rule to allow them to start planning the repack, which could include sharing arrangements to help speed the reallocation of spectrum to winning forward auction bidders.

It is also letting broadcasters know this week what their channel assignments will be in the repack.