The FCC’s auction of 65 MHz of AWS-3 began today and it’s already drawn heavy interest from the 70 approved bidders. Total bids exceeded $2 billion in the first two rounds.
The FCC set reserve prices of $580 million for 15 MHz of unpaired spectrum and $10 billion for 50 MHz of paired spectrum, including one highly coveted 20 MHz block. After the first two rounds, the FCC has already pulled in nearly 20 percent of the total reserve.
Provisional Winning Bids (PWB) have been placed on 1,039 of the 1,614 total available licenses.
The G Block is 10 MHz paired (1755-1760/2155-2160 MHz) and it’s broken up by Cellular Market Areas (CMA) into 734 licenses, making it more attractive to bidders looking to cover smaller areas rather than a nationwide footprint like AT&T, Dish, T-Mobile and Verizon, which are all qualified to bid in the AWS-3 auction.
Those four will likely focus mostly on two paired 10 MHz blocks (1760-1765/2160-2165 MHz and (1765-1770/2165-2170 MHz) and the paired 20 MHz block (1770-1780/2170-2180 MHz), which are all divided up into larger Economic Areas (EA).
BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk said AT&T and Verizon likely both want 20 MHz and since it’s possible for both of them to get that amount, the two carriers could try to stay out of each other’s way to keep prices down. But he added that Dish could be aware of that strategy and try to make the process more difficult for them.