FCC Auction Round Five: DBS Retakes Lead

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After five rounds of the FCC's auction of spectrum for advanced wireless services, the DBS one-two punch of EchoSTar and DirecTV bidding as Wireless DBS LLC, are back in the lead, topping the bidding for 12 licenses for a combined total of $352,486,000. T-Mobile had been the top bidder at $226,585,000 for 25 licenses after round three.

The auction is expected to bring anywhere between $6 billion and $20 billion in revenue to the federal treasury. So far, the bids total $1,473,940,600 for 522 licenses. That is up $203 million over the total in round four. The dollar total has increased by double digits in each of the five rounds on its way to a multi-billion payday for the Federal treasury.

There were two, two-hour bidding periods Wednesday, and three completed Thursday, with bidding continuing every business day--the number of rounds and their duration could expand--until no more bids are submitted for the 1,122 licenses up for auction.

The spectrum was reclaimed from government use and is being auctioned for advanced wireless services like broadband. Broadcast spectrum reclaimed after the digital transition is being similarly auctioned next year.

The Dolan Family Holdings--the family is headed by Cablevision chief Charles Dolan--was the seventh-highest bidder at $50,339,000 for three licenses.

Bidding is online--sort of like eBay for wireless--but with only a single bid per two-hour round--from 168 qualified bidders. They include the major wireless players, many smaller companies, as well as the DBS companies.

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