FCC Makes $427M From Spectrum Auction
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission just closed its 2.5 GHz spectrum auction, raking in $427 million for selling most of its licenses.
The auction, which was the first of its kind selling county-based licenses, kicked off in late July. In total, companies bought 7,872 of the 8,017 licenses — 98% — offered in the auction, the commission announced Thursday.
Most of those licenses were in rural areas.
The type of licenses being sold were flexible-use “overlay” licenses.
Though the format looked similar to previous auctions, the new type of auction offered only a single frequency-specific license in a category in a county.
The commission hopes selling these smaller, more specific licenses can help close the gaps in 5G cellphone service.
“We all know there are gaps in 5G coverage, especially in rural America, and this auction is a unique opportunity to fill them in,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, chair of the commission, in a statement when the auction kicked off. “I am grateful to the teams that have worked so hard to both stand up this auction and ensure the success of our efforts to make these airwaves available to tribes to support wireless service in their communities.”
The top company getting 7,156 of the licenses is T-Mobile, which paid over $304 million to secure the smaller licenses in more rural areas.
However, most of the other licensees were much smaller companies getting far fewer licenses. Overall, 77% of the companies receiving the licenses qualified as small businesses, according to the commission.
The next largest bidder was the North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation, which received 107 licenses. Evergy Kansas Central was the third largest bidder with 54 licenses.
All other companies received fewer than 50 licenses.
The commission’s ability to auction off spectrum will sunset at the end of September. There is a bipartisan bicameral bill working its way through Congress currently to extend the commission’s authority to auction off spectrum that passed through the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology in a 29-0 vote.