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PALs auction nears $4.6 billion, 10 licenses still contested

The Priority Access License bidding is down to just 10 licenses still being contested. The Federal Communications Commission seeks to move bidding along by adding a fifth daily round of bidding, starting tomorrow.

After 67 rounds, Auction 105 has raised more than $4.58 billion in bids from its 271 qualified bidders.

The counties where the number of bids is still greater than the seven available PALs are:

  • Napa county, CA (13 bids for seven licenses)
  • Yuma county, AZ (10 bids)
  • San Francisco county, CA; Spokane county, WA; Grundy county, IL; Benton county, TN;  and Carver county, MN (all with 9 bids)
  • Hennepin county, MN; San Benito county, CA; and Lincoln county, MO (all with 8 bids)

According to analysis by Sasha Javid, COO at BitPath and former chief data officer and legal advisor on the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, the average price per megahertz/POP was at $0.216979 after the 67th round of bidding. Comparatively, the last three millimeter wave auctions stacked up with nationwide price per MHz/POPs and totals raised of:

  • Auction 101 (28 GHz): $0.0113 MHz/POP, $702 million raised
  • Auction 102 (24 GHz): $0.009112 MHz/POP, $2 billion raised
  • Auction 103 (upper 37, 39 and 42 GHz): $0.007110 MHz/POP, $7.5 billion raised

The PALs with the highest prices are:

  • Los Angeles county, CA: $52 million
  • Cook county, IL: $39.85 million
  • Orange county, CA: $27.4 million
  • San Diego county, CA: $21.2 million
  • Harris county, TX: $19.1 million

While fewer than 20 counties saw no bidding demand at all, there are around 2,000 PALs that remained unsold as of Round 67. That’s out of the 22,631 that were made available during this auction, which is 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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