YOU ARE AT:Spectrum$1 billion in PALs bids and counting

$1 billion in PALs bids and counting

After 16 rounds, the Federal Communications Commission’s Priority Access License auction has raised a little more than $1 billion in bids from its 271 qualified bidders.

The PALs with the highest prices as of the close of Round 16 are:

  • Los Angeles county, CA: $8.2 million
  • Cook county, IL: $4.35 million
  • Harris county, TX: $3.4 million
  • Maricopa county, AZ: $3.2 million
  • San Diego county, CA: $2.6 million

On the basis of demand, the most hostly contested counties and their populations as of Round 16 are:

  • Los Angeles county, CA: 9.8 million
  • Bexar county, TX: 1.7 million
  • Brown county, Wisconsin: 248,000
  • Cook county, IL: 5.2 million
  • Santa Clara, county, CA (pop. 1.8 million), tied in this position with Dallas county, TX (pop. 2.4 million) and New York county, NY (pop. 1.6 million)

According to analysis by Sasha Javid, COO at the Spectrum Consortium and former chief data officer and legal advisor on the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, the average price per megahertz/POP after 16 rounds of bidding continues to creep upward and is now at $0.053806. Demand in recent rounds has concentrated on some of larger and mid-sized markets, but the PALs auction continues to see broad interest in spectrum across the country. Javid’s analysis shows that in the top 20 counties by demand, some counties with as few as 13,000-15,000 people are being bid upon at levels comparable to urban counties with millions of people.

Demand is also moving slowly toward equilibrium: As of Round 16, there were 721 counties where demand was greater than the supply of seven PALs, down from 893 at the end of Round 13. Demand met supply in 1,172 counties, and supply was greater than demand in 1,340 counties. The auction will continue until demand is equal to or less than the supply of available PALs.

Bidding continues today with three rounds. The auction kicked off July 23 with a single, six-hour round and met its reserve price of $108 million by the end of that first round of bidding.

The CBRS Priority Access License auction, known as Auction 105, makes available 22,631 PALs  in the CBRS band at 3.5 GHz. That figure breaks down to seven PALs per county-based license area across the United States: the highest number of licenses that the FCC has ever made available in a single auction. Each PAL consists of a 10 megahertz unpaired channel at 3.55-3.65 GHz. Entities can bid on up to four PALs per license area and aggregate them; in addition to PALs, 80 megahertz of the 150 megahertz band is available for use under the General Authorized Access (GAA) tier of the CBRS spectrum-sharing framework. If PALs are unsold at the close of the auction, the spectrum can be assigned for GAA use.


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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