As of Friday morning, proceeds in the FCC’s auction of millimeter wave spectrum in the 24 GHz band were climbing toward $1 billion.
Following 18 rounds of bidding, the second high-band 5G auction has raised $926,328,415. Though this quickly surpassed the $702.52 million total raised in the FCC’s 28 GHz auction earlier this year, the two follow different formats and are not directly comparable. Unlike the 28 GHz band, spectrum in the 24 GHz band is unencumbered and the auction includes licenses in top U.S. markets.
Bidding at the 24 GHz auction, also known as Auction 102, has been centered on major U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.
The auction, which kicked off March 14, is currently in the clock phase with Partial Economic Area (PEA) blocks up for bid. Once this portion concludes, the assignment phase will begin and winners can bid on specific frequency licenses.
All four of the country’s major carriers are among the 38 qualified bidders participating, with nearly 3,000 licenses up for grabs.
As the second 5G spectrum auction continues, the FCC is also gearing up for a third later this year of the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. The FCC circulated a public notice on auction procedures that the agency will vote on at its April meeting, including a proposal to offer 100 megahertz blocks of spectrum licensed by PEA areas.
In a blog post, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said it marks a significant step toward an auction of those bands as the agency seeks to deliver on the potential of 5G.
“In combination, the upper 37 GHz and the 39 GHz bands would offer the largest amount of contiguous spectrum in the millimeter wave bands for flexible-use wireless services—a total of 2,400 megahertz,” Pai wrote. “And the 47 GHz band, no slouch itself, will provide an additional 1,000 megahertz of millimeter wave spectrum for such services. Combined with the two preceding auctions, the Commission will be making available almost five gigahertz of spectrum for commercial use this year.”