5G Auction Carries On Despite US Government Shutdown

The 28GHz 5G auction by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is rolling into the new year, as one of the agency's actions being spared from the partial shutdown of the US federal government.

Total provisionally winning bids (PWB) in the auction stand at $690,217,390 on Friday afternoon. Total bids have only slightly increased since the end of 2018, as PWBs ended at $689,963,920 on December 21. Licenses with PWBs stand at 2,937 out of a total of 3,072.

The FCC has previously said that auctions and other spectrum-related activity will continue despite the government shutdown suspending "most operations" at the agency. The FCC is planning at least two more major 5G spectrum auctions in 2019. Meanwhile, the agency is planning to continue its work in clearing 600MHz TV band spectrum for mobile use. (See Spectrum Auctions to Proceed If 'Most' FCC Ops Shut Down Jan. 3 and T-Mobile, Dish & Comcast Big Winners in $19.8B 600MHz Auction.

The agency, however, says it will be suspending "most operations" during the shutdown.

The shutdown could delay the review of the $26.5 billion merger between Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and complink 5831|T-Mobile US Inc.}. The 189-day informal "shot clock" review restarted in December 2018 after being initially suspended by the FCC on September 11 2018, to allow the agency to examine new combined network plans from the operators. The shot clock would resume after government operations resume; however, there is no sign of that happening yet.(See FCC Halts Sprint/T-Mobile M&A Review.)

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, meanwhile, has cancelled his appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, with CES citing the ongoing shutdown as the cause.

"Because of the government shutdown, some of our scheduled government speakers at CES 2019 have alerted us that they must cancel their travel to the show," said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in a statement.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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