Round IV: AWS-3 Draws $414 Million More in Bids

Successful auction could relieve financial pressure on broadcast incentive auction
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After four rounds, the FCC's auction of advanced wireless spectrum (AWS-3 auction) has drawn $2,851,482,100 in bids, which is $414,460,100 more than had been bid in round three.

Round four saw 901 new bids for 1,141 of a total of 1,614 licenses divided into geographic areas. Among the bidders who qualified to participate are AT&T and T-Mobile.

The bidding could go on for days, weeks or even months. Bidding continues until nobody bids in a round or exercises a waiver, which means it is passing but wants the chance to bid again.

In the AWS-3 auction, 65 MHz of spectrum is up for bid, part of a congressional—and White House—mandate to free up wireless spectrum for mobile broadband.

It will be the largest amount of spectrum auctioned since the FCC's 2008 700 MHz auction.

AWS-3 is the second of three spectrum auctions mandated by Congress to fund the FirstNet interoperable broadband network, as well as local first responders, advanced 911, R&D and deficit reduction.

The first auction, of H block spectrum, collected $1.564 billion toward that goal (FirstNet alone is $7 billion), but the FCC is already predicting that the AWS-3 auction will raise most if not all of that $7 billion, putting less pressure on the third auction, the broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for 2016.

If the FCC meets its reserves in the AWS-3 auction, it will more than cover that. The aggregate reserve for the 65 MHz is $10.587 billion—actually it is two separate reserves of $580 million and $10.007 billion.

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