Skip to main content

FCC Shifts C-Band Gears to More, Shorter, Rounds

C-band satellite
(Image credit: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON—The FCC is moving to five shorter rounds for its C-band auction, which has been drawing lots of dollars for 5G spectrum.

The auction continued with four, one-hour rounds Wednesday, Dec. 16, drawing more than $1 billion in additional gross proceeds after each round.

But according to the FCC website, starting Friday, Dec. 18, there will be five, half-hour rounds. The FCC moved from three to four rounds Dec. 11.

The FCC traditionally boosts the number of rounds and shortens them as a way to get bidders to get off the dime and speed the auction.

As of round 24, the last round Wednesday, gross bids totaled $15,242,167,882, up over $1.3 billion from the previous round's $13,890,681,482.

The FCC is auctioning 280 MHz of mid-band spectrum for terrestrial 5G broadband, moving incumbent satellite operators and their clients, including broadcasters and cable operators, to the upper 200 MHZ of the band.

Estimates for the value of the band vary, but some have put it at $25 billion-$30 billion. 

FCC chairman Ajit Pai this week said that he expects that when the auction is over it will have been one of the FCC's most significant actions to advance 5G.

The FCC voted last February to free up 300 MHz of the C-Band for 5G, 280 of that to be auctioned and 20 MHz to be used as a guard band between wireless users and the incumbent satellite operators that will use the remaining 200 MHz to continue to deliver network programming to broadcaster and cable operator (and other) clients.

Bidders include AT&T, Cellco Partnership, Cox, T-Mobile, and United States Cellular.