FCC Gooses Wireless Auction

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After 16 days of online bidding on 1,122 licenses for advanced wireless services spectrum, the FCC is picking up the pace.

It has increased the number of rounds from three to six per day and shortened them from an hour to a half-hour.

After round 59 Wednesday, the total stood at $13.627 billion, with T-Mobile and Verizon continuing to top the bidding at close to a combined $7 billion.

While the total amount for winning bids moved early and swiftly past the low estimate of $7 billion and toward the big-bucks territory of the $20 billion high-end guesstimates, after three weeks the late rounds have been stuck in the mid $13 billion range for the last few rounds.

If the bidding is still going on Sept. 1, it will be suspended by midday Friday and will take a break on Labor Day.

Winners get 15 years to build out their service, then another 10 if they have met minimum service requirements.

There are also restrictions on how soon and to whom the licenses can be resold in an attempt to cut down on flipping and trading in licenses or the use of smaller companies, which get bidding credits, as surrogates for larger ones.

The spectrum was reclaimed from government use and is being auctioned for advanced wireless services like broadband.

Broadcast spectrum reclaimed after the digital transition will be similarly auctioned.

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