The Priority Access License has raised nearly $832 million in bids after 13 rounds, including more than $56 million in the 13th round.
The auction continues to show an unusual bidding pattern, compared to typical auctions that are dominated by large mobile network operators focused on building their spectrum holdings in the most densely-populated urban areas of the U.S. In Auction 105, the excess demand is spread across large, small and mid-sized counties across the country. Some counties with relatively small price tags are seeing high demand from the 271 qualified bidders.
The top two counties with the highest levels of bidding demand and their prices as of the seventh round are Los Angeles, California (pop. 9.8 million) with a round 13 price of $6.2 million for a PAL, and Arlington, Virginia (pop. 207,627) at $142,000. Eight additional counties are tied for the next spot, in a snapshot that illustrates why this auction is so very different than anything before: Cook county, Illinois (pop. 5.2 million) and Dallas county, Texas (pop. 2.4 million) are just as hotly contested as Humboldt county, Iowa (pop. 9,800), Andrews county, Texas (pop. 15,000) and Eastland, Texas (pop. 18,600). Each of those counties have 27 bidders vying for the seven available PALs. The prices of those licenses range from $7,200 for Humboldt, to $3.6 million for Cook, as of round 13.
There are 893 counties with bidding demand greater than the available supply of licenses; 1,458 counties where the supply outweighs the demand; and 882 counties where the two are evenly matched.
According to analysis by Sasha Javid, COO at the Spectrum Consortium and former chief data officer and legal advisor on the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, the average price per megahertz/POP after seven rounds of bidding is $0.043818.
Bidding continues Friday with three rounds, after the auction kicked off July 23 with a single, six-hour round. The Federal Communications Commission had been holding two, two-hour bidding rounds daily, but nudged that to three 90-minute rounds earlier this week. The auction met its reserve price of $108 million by the end of the first round of bidding.
The CBRS Priority Access License auction, known as Auction 105, makes available 22,631 PALs in the CBRS band at 3.5 GHz. That figure breaks down to seven PALs per county-based license area across the United States: the highest number of licenses that the FCC has ever made available in a single auction. Each PAL consists of a 10 megahertz unpaired channel at 3.55-3.65 GHz. Entities can bid on up to four PALs per license area and aggregate them; in addition to PALs, 80 megahertz of the 150 megahertz band is available for use under the General Authorized Access (GAA) tier of the CBRS spectrum-sharing framework. If PALs are unsold at the close of the auction, the spectrum can be assigned for GAA use.