Spectrum auction forward bidders boosted the auction total by another $20 million in round 12 of stage four Friday morning, increasing from $18,545,525,787 to $18,565,289,387.
There will be one more two-hour round Friday afternoon before the FCC boosts the number of rounds to four and cuts the time per round from four hours to two, starting Jan. 30.
The auction will continue until demand no longer exceeds supply in any of the 416 markets where the spectrum is available (actually it is divided into partial economic areas [PEAs]). Bidders are competing for 10 MHz blocks of unimpaired (essentially interference-free) spectrum.
As of Jan. 18, the auction had met both its benchmarks for closing—the price of spectrum in the top 40 PEAs and covering the broadcasters' asking price of $10 billion, so stage four will be the last one.
After that, the FCC will hold a second assignment auction among the winning bidders for specific frequencies. They are currently bidding on generic blocks.