Bidding in the AWS-3 spectrum auction, known as auction 97, is now closed, with total provisional winning bids coming in at a record $44.899 billion.
The FCC set a reserve price on the auction of around $10 billion. Analysts had predicted that the auction would raise anywhere from $10 billion to $20 billion.
The auction raised far more than all other major FCC auctions, including the $13.7 billion raised during the AWS-1 auction in 2006, and the $18.9 billion raised during the 700 MHz auction in 2008.
“Today we closed bidding Auction 97 – by far the highest-earning spectrum auction the United States has ever seen. But it was much more than that,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.” This auction also marked a new era in spectrum policy, where a collaborative and unprecedented effort resulted in new commercial access to federal spectrum bands. A bipartisan group of leaders in Congress, federal agencies – especially NTIA and DoD – the White House, industry, and the team at the FCC all came together to help meet the nation’s demand for wireless broadband.”
The AWS-3 airwaves cover spectrum in the 1700MHz and 2100MHz blocks, but they do not overlap with the AWS-1 spectrum that a number of carriers (most notably T-Mobile and Verizon) already use. Winners of the auction will likely use the new spectrum to bolster their existing wireless networks with greater capacity.