Spectrum Auction Update: Bidders Snub Public Safety Block

After seven rounds of bidding, the FCC’s wireless spectrum auction has drummed up $5.3 billion in bids on almost 1,000 licenses. But one huge swath of airwaves — known as the D block — hasn’t seen a new bid since the first round, last Thursday.

The D block covers the whole country, so the winner would be able to offer nationwide wireless service with one spectrum licence — rare air. But the licence comes with restrictions that have minimized demand — so much so that the FCC may not get the minimum $1.33 billion it was seeking. The one bid to date for the spectrum: $472 million.

The block should have been a match for Frontline Wireless, a Silicon Valley-backed startup led by former FCC chairman Reed Hundt. But Frontline shuttered  days before the auction started.

So what now? If the spectrum stays unloved, the FCC will a tough decision: It either has to reduce some of the strings that come attached to the block, and try re-auctioning it. Or it will have to give the spectrum to the high bidder — and take less money for the licence than it promised Congress.

See Also: The FCC Spectrum Auction: The Cliff Notes Version
Anyone Want Some Airwaves? The FCC Spectrum No One Wants

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