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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.

Auction96bids

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.

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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.

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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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