A wireless spectrum auction being hosted by the Federal Communications Commission has garnered bids more than three times higher than the initial reserve price of $10.5 billion. The auction, which is offering up six blocks of airwaves totaling 65MHz of spectrum, has become the largest in the FCC’s history.
As of Friday, interested parties had bid more than $34 billion – a figure that’s likely to climb a bit higher before it’s all said and done considering this is the first auction for airwaves in six years.
The last auction took place in 2008 and raised $18.9 billion.
Interestingly enough, the current auction has no set end date which means it could continue on for days or even weeks.
The auction started on November 13 and wasn’t widely reported on as most expected it to be a low-key affair due to the fact that the airwaves’ high frequency isn’t as attractive to wireless carriers versus what was sold in 2008 and what will be made available in a couple of years.
The next auction will see television broadcasters sell a portion of their spectrum to wireless carriers. It was supposed to take place sooner but was recently pushed back to 2016. The delay in its start, coupled with the explosion in popularity of smartphones and other wireless devices over the past few years and the fear of yet another delay, is likely what’s driving the current auction skywards.
The FCC approved a whopping 70 companies to participate in this year's auction. Identities of the high bidders, however, won’t be revealed until after the auction wraps up.