The FCC could extend its mid-band spectrum auction into the new year even though bids are now trickling in, and Wall Street is slamming mobile operators -- in part -- because of the massive spending bills anticipated on Auction 97.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just issued a "holiday notice" that the auction will suspend after the last round on Tuesday, December 23. "Bidding will resume on Monday, January 5, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. ET," the agency said Wednesday.
The auction had appeared to be drawing to a close, so it might be surprising if it continues into the new year. The bidding now stands at $44.23 billion after 106 rounds. There were 94 new bids and no waivers in the latest round with $17,220,700 in new money bid, which is just a 0.04% change on the previous round. The FCC currently holds a single AWS-3 license, and there are preferred winning bids (PWBs) on 1,613 of the regional licenses.
The auction will continue until there are no new bids or waivers in a given round.
Part of the reason that US carriers are getting trampled this week on the stock market is because of concerns about the amount several operators are spending on the AWS-3 auction. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Wireless are all vying for spectrum in this auction. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), however, sat this auction out and still hit a 52-week low of $3.80 on Tuesday because of fears in the market about the effects of a wireless price war and because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering a $105 million fine against the company for "cramming charges" on customer bills.
Whatever the causes, it is certainly not a happy holiday on Wall Street for the big four mobile operators. (See US Carriers Spanked on Big Red's Q4 Margin Squeeze.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading