TR Daily Clock Phase of FCC’s Record C-Band Auction Closes
Friday, January 15, 2021

Clock Phase of FCC’s Record C-Band Auction Closes

The clock phase of the FCC’s record C-band auction (Auction 107) closed today after 97 rounds with a record $80.9 billion in gross revenues. All of the licenses were sold as the Commission auctioned 280 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.7-3.98 gigahertz band.

Auction bidders "will now have the opportunity to bid for frequency-specific licenses in the assignment phase of Auction 107," the FCC pointed out in a news release. "The FCC will release a public notice soon announcing further details regarding the assignment phase, including the date and time when bidding in the assignment phase will commence."

"This historic FCC auction is already a record-breaking success. Bidders have won all of the 5,684 spectrum blocks that were up for bid. And gross proceeds have exceeded $80.9 billion, shattering the prior FCC auction record of $44.9 billion," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

"These results represent a strong endorsement by the private sector of the service rules and transition plan put in place by the FCC to quickly make the C-band a critical part of 5G rollout in the United States. And they vindicate the hard choices the FCC made during the C-band proceeding—and that we made them in the first instance," Mr. Pai added.

"The FCC confronted a host of technical, legal, practical, and political challenges in structuring this auction. It would have been easy to delay. But we rightly pushed ahead and overcame every one of those obstacles," Mr. Pai said. "As a result, we significantly advanced United States leadership in 5G and have enabled America’s wireless consumers to more quickly benefit from 5G services. I would like to thank the Commission staff for their hard work on the C-band proceeding. And I also would like to thank Commissioner [Brendan] Carr and former Commissioner [Mike] O’Rielly for their support of the many policy choices that led to this tremendous accomplishment."

"Over the past few years, the FCC has made the tough calls needed to secure U.S. leadership in 5G. Chairman Pai deserves credit for freeing up the airwaves needed to power high-speed Internet services. The close of the C-Band auction today further ensures that the strongest 5G platform in the world will be built here in the U.S., and the results make clear that we made the right decision to move forward," Mr. Carr said.

"This record-breaking spectrum auction demonstrates the wireless industry’s commitment to leading the emerging 5G economy and underscores the importance of developing a robust pipeline of spectrum auctions," said Meredith Attwell Baker, president and chief executive officer of CTIA.

"Spectrum continues to be the oxygen for the mobile wireless industry. The successful C-Band auction showcased the critical need of the mobile wireless industry to have access to an important portfolio of spectrum to support connectivity for citizens, the economy, and U.S. technology leadership," said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas.

"The completion of the C Band spectrum auction is a huge win for the U.S.," said Niklas Heuveldop, president and head of Ericsson North America. "The availability of mid-band spectrum is critical to accelerate the rollout of 5G networks, support U.S. 5G leadership, and capitalize on the economic benefits of this innovation platform."

"In retrospect it’s hard to believe that the GOP majority at the FCC came so close to authorizing a private auction that would have allowed the incumbent satellite operators to pocket this $80 billion as a windfall in addition to the $9.7 billion in so-called incentive payments that the winning bidders still need to pay them," said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Program at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. "Sen. [John] Kennedy [R., La.] and leading Democrats on the Commerce Committees deserve enormous thanks for their persistent and ultimately successful effort to derail that effort and ensure that this revenue goes back to the public who, after all, own the airwaves."

Verizon Communications, Inc., is expected to be the top bidder in the auction, which far outpaced the revenue estimates of many analysts.

"The nationwide average price per MHz-POP across all categories in this auction was $0.942. This is roughly 4.3 times the $0.217 price per MHz-POP that spectrum sold for in the CBRS auction. While that may sound like a huge difference, when you consider that analysts at New Street Research stated that expected range of transmissions in the C-band could be 7.5 times the expected range of transmissions in the CBRS band, which is currently subject to tighter power emission limits, this price differential may actually be a relative bargain," Sasha Javid, chief operating officer of BitPath, said in a posting. "Moreover, the C-band auction prices certainly pale in comparison to the prices we saw in the AWS-3 auction (another mid-band spectrum auction). In that auction, the nationwide average price per MHz-POP was roughly $2.20, and the most expensive market (Chicago) went for an astounding $5.73."

"But total spend also matters," Mr. Javid added. "The C-band auction put up 280 MHz for sale, and not just 65 MHz, as was the case in the AWS-3 auction. This is why total gross proceeds in this C-band auction skyrocketed past the $44 billion raised in the AWS-3 auction to become the highest gross auction of all time. When you factor in what I call the ‘fully-loaded’ costs (which includes $9.7 [billion] in accelerated clearing costs and an estimated $3.3 billion in relocation costs), the total spend for winning bidders will be an astounding $93.9 billion. My worry about overspending in this auction and the parallels to the European 3G auctions in the early 2000s, is why I wrote a blog post about possible ‘irrational exuberance’ among the bidders after Round 38." —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

MainStory: FCC FederalNews SpectrumAllocation

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