After chugging along with per-round bid total boosts in the $20 million range for many days, rounds 20 and 21 of stage four of the forward portion of the FCC spectrum auction saw big jumps of about $75 million and $73 million, respectively.
The round 21 total was $18,864,090,387, up from $18,791,387 in round 20.
The auction has already met its two key clearing targets and broadcasters already know how much they are getting: About $10 billion, so the auction will end at the end of the current forward auction stage.
But the auction can't close until there is no more bidding in any of the 416 markets. For example, in round 21 there was more demand than supply in number 10 market, Houston, as well as a number of smaller markets including Tulsa, Okla., and Sarasota, Fla.
Starting on Wednesday, Feb. 1, the FCC will boost its per-round price increases from 5% over the previous round to 10% in an effort to speed the auction to its conclusion.
It can't end until there are not more bids in any of the 416 geographic markets into which the spectrum has been divided.
The FCC is making 70 MHz of spectrum available, divided into 7, 10 MHz blocks, in each market.
The forward auction is a clock auction in which the FCC raises the price in each round until demand does not exceed supply in each round.
At that point the auction will close and a second auction will be held among winning bidders to assign specific frequencies.