Auction Net Inches Over $10 Billion

WASHINGTON—Net proceeds after round five of the TV spectrum incentive forward auction reach just over $10 billion on Thursday afternoon, the third day of bidding. The results were posted at the Federal Communications Commission auction portal after 4 p.m. ET, when the round closed. The net proceeds came in at $10.05 billion, reflecting discounts totaling $537.6 million from total proceeds of $10.6 billion. Rural wireless providers and small business receive a discount off their bids. Nineteen of the 62 bidders in the forward auction qualified for discounts.

The bidding started on Tuesday at the opening prices finalized by the commission in June, with the opening round yielding $8.49 billion in bids. Bidders are vying for blocks of TV spectrum provisionally relinquished by broadcasters in the earlier reverse auction for a total of $86.4 billion. If the forward auction does not raise $84.6 billion, plus $1.75 billion to fund broadcaster relocation and a lesser sum to pay for the auction, the process will begin again with another reverse auction seeking less spectrum. Of the 126 MHz proffered through the reverse auction, 100 MHz is on the forward auction block, with 26 MHz going to buffer zones, wireless mics and unlicensed uses. The bidding is expected to go for several more rounds before the auction either closes or starts at a lower clearing target.

The commission planned for various scenarios going into the auction with regard to how much spectrum it could clear. This clearing target is calculated by optimization software that determines how many TV stations can be repacked into a reduced amount of spectrum without exceeding an interference threshold. Bidding will recommence Friday morning.

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