Bids are closing in on the $10.6 billion mark in the first week of the sell-off phase of the low-band 600MHz spectrum auction.
The second part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction started on Tuesday with one long round of bidding a day. There are 62 companies approved to bid: These include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), as well as less expected names such as DoCoMo Pacific. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is not bidding in this particular auction. (See Next Phase of FCC 600MHz Auction Starts August 16.)
You can keep track of the bidding totals here. The FCC will reveal the winning bidders after the auction process is finished.
In any normal spectrum auction, the $10.6 billion in bids would be seen as a great first week. The last big auction, the mid-band AWS-3 sell-off late in 2014, topped $14 billion in its first week, but the $45 billion AWS-3 auction was the largest grossing spectrum auction -- by far -- yet held in the US. (See FCC's AWS-3 Auction Tops $14B.)
The 600MHz spectrum is not quite as attractive to two of the likely top bidders, AT&T and Verizon, because the 600MHz band is close to the 700MHz bands they use for LTE, so there is a potential for signal interference.
This isn't a normal auction, however, having been dubbed an "incentive auction" by the FCC: This means TV broadcasters currently on the bandwidth participated in a "reverse auction" in March to let the FCC know how much they as a group expected to get for the combined 600MHz spectrum. (See The Big Spend on AWS Has Consequences.)
The broadcasters set the bar high for the full 126MHz of 600MHz spectrum that could be sold off, demanding at least $86.4 billion to give it up. The FCC said it will have to hold further reverse auctions if the broadcasters' expectations are not initially met. The process could easily drag on into 2017.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading