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FCC’s H-Block spectrum auction on life support

Bidding nearly ceased on Thursday in the Federal Communications Commission Auction 96, with one of the dozen rounds conducted garnering only a single new potential winning bid. The auction, which includes 176 H-Block economic area spectrum licenses, is set to conclude once a round does not receive any new bids.

The near-end came in round 104, in which only a new bid for the Spokane, Wash.-area spectrum license received a new bid. Overall, an average of 5.5 new bids were placed per round, with only round 102 (24) and round 106 (13) garnering double-digit new bids. The new bids were half-as-many per round as were put up yesterday, which in of itself were half-as-many as the day before.


At the end of the day, the 66 new bids added $23 million in new funds and pushed the auction’s total haul to $1.523 billion. The increase inches the total ever-closer to the $1.565 billion Dish Network pledged to pay for all of the 10-megahertz spectrum licenses before the auction began on Jan. 22. Dish is participating in the auction under the American H Block Wireless entity, with winning bidders not to be revealed until the auction concludes.


As has been the case throughout the auction, none of the initial 23 qualified bidders exited the proceedings. Those bidders include a number of entities labeled under the names of individuals as well as a handful of established telecom operators like Ntelos, NE Colorado Cellular and Puerto Rico Telephone Co. Eleven entities failed to qualify, including Cellular South and Union Telephone Co.


Most of the nation’s largest wireless operators are bypassing Auction 96 in order to focus their spectrum-buying efforts on the upcoming AWS-3 auction involving a total of 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 1755-1780/2155-2180 MHz bands adjacent to the 1.7/2.1 GHz spectrum bands currently used by a number of carriers to support LTE rollouts; and the mid-2015 planned auction of 600 MHz spectrum licenses.

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