Spectrum Forward Auction Inches Into Round 5

Bidders only raise aggregate total by $35 million

The FCC's spectrum auction is not done just yet.

As of round 4 of stage 4 in what is essentially the clean-up phase of the spectrum incentive auction, forward auction bidders upped their bids by about $35 million, from $18,299,482,587 in round 3 Jan. 19, the most recent bidding day, to $18,354,882,127 Monday after a two-hour 10 a.m.-noon round.

So long as there is any activity (demand exceeding supply) in any market, the auction continues, so it will go at least through round five, which begins at 2 p.m. For example, demand continues to exceed supply in Harrisburg, Pa., Albany and Buffalo, N.Y., as well as South Bend, Ind.

And while the auction bids could continue to inch up or the auction close with no more activity given that the activity is in smaller markets with smaller payouts, there remains an unsold block in L.A., so if someone bid on that block, the total could still increase by several hundred million.

Broadcasters' take is already fixed at $10,054,676,822, so anything above that (and the $1.9 billion to cover auction and repacking) goes to the treasury and deficit reduction.