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Initial Bidding Ends in 24 GHz Auction; Assignment Phase to Begin May 3

Randy Sukow Apr 18, 2019

The FCC says that the “clock phase” of Auction 102 for licenses in the 24 GHz band has ended, sending the auction process to an “assignment phase,” in which the Commission determines which precise licenses the winning clock-phase bidders will receive. The assignment phase is to begin on May 3 with a mock auction planned for April 30.

Auction 102 follows Auction 101 for 28 GHz spectrum, which ended earlier this year. The FCC plans to announce final winners for both auctions together at a future date. NRTC electric and telco members were among the participants in both auctions.

“Gross proceeds in the clock phase reached just over $1.988 billion, and bidders won 2,904 of 2,909, or more than 99.8 percent of, available licenses,” said FCC spokesman Neil Grace in a statement late yesterday. “Winning bidders will now have the opportunity to bid for frequency-specific licenses in the assignment phase of Auction 102.”

The goal of the “spectrum frontier” auctions is to assign wide blocks of millimeter wave licenses at 24 GHz and above for 5G wireless networks. Together, Auctions 101 and 102 have attracted about $2.7 billion in bids for 1.44 GHz of spectrum. Competition for 24 GHz licenses was greater, with 99.8 percent of 2,909 available licenses going to bidders compared to 96 percent of the 3.072 licenses in the 28 GHz auction.

Last week, the FCC announced at a White House event that Auction 103 for licenses in the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands will begin on Dec. 10, 2019.  It will be the most spectrum that the Commission has ever offered in a single auction. Auction 103 has attracted some criticism because it is starting so long after the completion of the first two 5G auctions and because it continues the FCC’s concentration on high-band spectrum. Many believe significant amounts of middle-band spectrum will be necessary for the United States to compete in 5G businesses internationally.

“We’re excited to see the successful conclusion of this stage of our nation’s second 5G high-band spectrum auction,” said Scott Bergmann, senior VP, Regulatory Affairs for CTIA, the national association representing wireless service providers. “We look forward to the final results of this auction, as well as making progress on mid-band spectrum availability, which will also be critical to maintaining our global wireless leadership.”

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