HomeDAS & In Building WirelessCBRSCBRS PAL auction hits $3B in bids—and is still climbing

CBRS PAL auction hits $3B in bids—and is still climbing

The Priority Access License (PAL) auction has raised more than $3 billion in bids after 37 rounds, according to BitPath COO Sasha Javid’s analysis. Approximately 271 counties across the United States have licenses that are still seeing competitive bids. This auction is for the licensed part of the CBRS spectrum for use by carriers, enterprises like real estate or a multitude of other use cases by parties interested in this highly coveted frequency band.

What is a PAL?

A priority access license is the middle tier for spectrum access, which comprises seven 10MHz channels from 3550-3650MHz. PALs have higher priority access to the spectrum and protection against interference from General Authorized Access (GAA) users, but less priority than incumbent users (usually the military).

How does the PAL auction work?

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) PAL auction makes 22,631 PALs in the CBRS band at 3.5 GHz available. Each U.S. county can access seven licenses for their respective area. Every PAL comprises 10MHz of unpaired channel at 3.55 to 3.65 GHz. Any unsold PAL’s can be assigned for GAA use. More than 2,800 blocks were unsold after 37 rounds.

PAL auction prices continue to rise

Javid noted the average price per megahertz/POP about $0.16 after the 37th round of bidding. Rick Engelman and Ari Meltzer, auction observers at the law firm Wiley noted that “excess demand has been trending downward with a 32 percent drop on Friday and 40 percent drop on Thursday” last week.

“As prices continue to rise, we expect to continue to see bidders reduce their bids in high priced markets more quickly and, perhaps, shift some demand to less expensive markets,” Engelman and Meltzer wrote. “Eventually, this will lead to a narrowing of the aggregate excess and a slowing of the growth in gross proceeds and overall average bid prices.”

Three of the top five bidders as of Round 37 are in California, per BitPath’s analysis. Los Angeles County led the pack significantly with a $52 million bid. San Diego County ($19.2 million) and Orange County ($18.7 million) finished second and third, respectively. Meanwhile Kings County, NY ($12.9 million) and Cook County, IL ($11.3 million) rounded out the top five.

Maricopa County (AZ) and San Diego County both had 16 bidders vying for seven licenses. New Haven County, CT, Clark County, NV and Jefferson County, AL weren’t far behind with 15 bidders each. The PAL auction will continue with the final bid total anyone’s guess.

Joe Dyton can be reached at joed@fifthgenmedia.com.

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