High bids for 700 MHz break key thresholds; no new bids for D Block
Action in this morning’s 17th round of the 700 MHz auction saw the total high bids reach levels that meet congressional budget objectives and a C Block bid that would trigger open-access requirements for networks operating in that swath of spectrum, but bidding on the D Block remains dormant.
In round 17, cumulative high bids on all 60 MHz of spectrum available reached $12.789 billion. From a budgetary perspective, Congress needed the auction to garner at least $12 billion—$2 billion to pay for previous obligations and $10 billion in new revenue to pay for new appropriations, including $1 billion in public-safety interoperability grants that should be announced this spring.
In the C Block auction, round 17 produced a high bid of $4.713 billion, exceeding the FCC’s $4.6 billion reserve price for the spectrum. FCC rules dictate that wireless networks operating in the C Block observe open-access rules that are designed to loosen carriers’ control of the devices and applications used on their networks. If the C Block reserve price was not met, the spectrum would have been reauctioned without the open-access requirement.
Once again, there were no new bids on the D Block, a 10 MHz nationwide swath that the FCC wants coupled with public-safety spectrum to provide the spectral foundation for a shared, nationwide network built to public-safety standards. After a $472 million bid on the D Block in the first round, there has been no further action on those airwaves in the last 16 rounds. The FCC established a $1.3 billion reserve price for the D Block.
Round 18 in the auction is scheduled to begin at 11:30 EST.