January 29, 2015 — The bidding has concluded in the Auction 97, which drew more than $44 billion in bids, the highest earning spectrum auction in history, far surpassing expectations. The auction of 65 megahertz of spectrum, which will be used for wireless broadband, lasted 77 days and was predicted to total between $18 billion and $25 billion in bids.
“Some experts opine that the winning bid total is due in large part to bidding and other competitive strategies unique to this band,” said FCC Comm. Mignon Clyburn. “I believe one of the key factors for this unanticipated level of activity is that the AWS-3 bands are near the AWS-1 bands and there are already base stations and other equipment available.”
Several entities were earmarked to receive proceeds from the sale, including $7 billion for FirstNet; $300 million for public safety communications research; $115 million in grants for 911, E911, and NextGen 911 implementation; and more than $20 billion for deficit reduction.
The total valuation of the spectrum was estimated to be $2.21/MHz-POP (including paired and unpaired spectrum), and $2.76/MHz-POP for the paired spectrum blocks (J, I, H blocks), according to Wells Fargo Securities.
In March of 2014, the FCC allocated spectrum in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz bands, collectively known as AWS-3. The winners will need to coordinate with federal incumbents.
“Five years ago, many people doubted that we would succeed in making AWS-3 spectrum available. It is because of dedication, hard work, and compromise that a variety of government and industry stakeholders came together to develop a solution that made much of this spectrum newly available for commercial use,” said Roger Sherman, chief of the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
Within the next two weeks, the FCC will release the names of the auction winners, what spectrum they purchased and how much they paid.