The CBRS Priority Access License (PAL) auction (Auction 105) closed this week after 76 rounds and raised more than $4.58 billion in bids. The licenses bid on in the Auction reside in the 3550-3650 MHz band. The auction made the greatest number of spectrum licenses available ever in a single Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction, according to the Commission. As valuable as these licenses are, last year the Federal Government also made available 80 MHz of this same spectrum to be used UNLICENSED which is a wonderful opportunity for Enterprise users (especially landlords) to own and run their own Private Networks. “This is a wonderful gift that the government has given us” said John Gilbert, COO of Rudin management, at the recent Connected Virtual Tech Event.
The FCC expects the 70 MHz of licensed spectrum to further the deployment of 5G—the next generation of wireless connectivity—as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) and other advanced spectrum-based services.
“This is a banner day for American leadership in 5G and for American consumers,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “The 3.5 GHz auction has concluded, and I can say unequivocally: It was a resounding success. The strong demand for licenses was the direct result of this Commission’s reforms to the rules for the 3.5 GHz band—reforms that would not have been possible without the leadership and hard work of my colleague, Commissioner Mike O’Rielly.
“This auction has been a key part of our 5G FAST Plan and our ongoing push to make more mid-band spectrum available for 5G. I look forward to this important spectrum being put to use quickly to provide service to the American people. And I look forward to the Commission making available 280 more megahertz of mid-band spectrum for 5G in the C-band auction beginning on December 8.”
The auction comprised 271 unique bidders, and among the 20 largest counties, Orange County finished on top of the bidders’ list with $0.912 per MHz-POP. Cook County (Chicago) ($0.767) and San Diego ($0.685) rounded out the top three. Meanwhile Los Angeles County generated the highest amount of gross proceeds at $364,503,167.
Smaller counties were also active in the bidding. Arlington and Alexandria, VA finished at $2.199 and $1.670, respectively. Meanwhile, Loving, TX with a population of 82 generated gross proceeds of $812,000 and a price per MHz-POP of $141.463, BitPath Chief Operating Officer Sasha Javid wrote.
“Beyond these closing prices, I think there are two key takeaways that I found very interesting in this auction,” Javid wrote. “(First) the apparent genuine interest in acquiring spectrum blocks in rural Midwestern and Western counties. (Second) the persistent demand that caused this auction to deviate in its progression from prior FCC clock auctions.”
Auction 105 bidders won 20,625 of 22,631 (91.1 percent) of the available licenses. The FCC will release a public notice in the coming days that will include detailed auction results, the names of Auction 105 winning bidders, and deadlines for payments and the filing of long-form applications. The FCC will also share other post-auction procedures needed for the prompt issuance of licenses.
“Certainly, the results of this auction bode well for the C-band auction currently slated for December,” Javid wrote. “Even if the 280 MHz of C-band spectrum being put up for auction goes for the closing price of this auction ($0.217), we are talking about a $19 billion dollar auction. But because the 280 MHz in the C-band does not have the same power limitations found in the CBRS band, prices could easily be double of this auction, resulting in a $38 billion dollar auction or more. Time for carriers to plan their capex budgets accordingly!”