600MHz auction ending in April, pot likely to hit $20 billion
Eleven months since the first reverse auction took place, the final bids are being entered into the FCC’s 600MHz auction.
We already told you that the process would come to an end in this fourth round of back-and-forth bidding between the broadcasters looking to relinquish and profit from licensed airwaves that wireless service providers want.
A cumulative bidding goal of $10 billion was met a couple weeks ago. The total thus far has come up to $19.6 billion — claims for high-demand blocks in crucial areas may take the total above the $20 billion threshold. These figures fall way below the original broadcasters’ expectation of $86.4 billion.
Broadcast groups have started disclosing their takes of that partitioned $10 billion total. They range from the tens to the hundreds of millions of dollars (Fox Television Stations, Tribune Media and Sinclair Broadcasting Group). E.W. Scripps was one company that opted out of the auction because it thought prices were too low.
The auction will end in April. From then, broadcasters will have three years and three months to clear their airwaves by either moving to a different channel or signing off their frequencies — $1.75 billion of the pot will be set aside to aid stations in the process. After regulators repack the spectrum for internet transmissions, 70MHz of spectrum spread across the country will then be available to carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Comcast and Dish Networks also took part along with 57 other suitors.
Remaining funds not used in the upcoming transition period will be chipped in towards the federal deficit — some $6 billion or so as of right now.