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US: Broadband auction ends September 19, 2006

Posted by Jasper in broadband, General, Mobile.
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Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) auction of advanced wireless services spectrum ended yesterday raising US$13.9 billion (gross). T-Mobile USA was the top bidder, bidding almost US$4.2 billion for 120 licenses. Verizon Wireless agreed to pay US$2.8 billion for 13 licenses, while a consortium, Spectrum Co, that includes cable companies Comcast and Time Warner along with Sprint Nextel agreed to pay almost US$2.4 billion for 137 licenses.  Due to anti-collusion rules, the companies are not permitted to talk about what their plans for the spectrum are until they make a down payment.

From the results it is clear that the country’s largest providers have dominated the auction. So, any hope that new entrants would shake up the market has dwindled. 

Based on various sources (primarily RCR Wireless News and cellular news) I have complied the bidding behaviour from start on till finish. The 28-day-long auction ended after 161 rounds, with 104 of the 168 registered bidders winning at least one license. All but 35 of the total 1,122 licenses up for grabs received bids.  Detailed information on the auction can be found at the FCC. Click here.

And here is the summary…

August 9: T-Mobile USA dominates first round of AWS auction
T-Mobile USA Inc. led the first round of bidding, placing bids for spectrum that would substantially expand its national footprint. The carrier bid for 20 megahertz of spectrum in each of six regions across the country, as well as additional spectrum in markets such as San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth and many other markets. T-Mobile USA placed seven of the top 10 highest bids and bid highest for the Great Lakes, Northeast and Western regional licenses. The nation’s fourth-largest carrier also made more than half of the 40 highest bids so far.

August 10: T-Mobile USA continues aggressive play
T-Mobile USA Inc. is dominating the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction after three rounds in terms of sheer dollars, with $226.6 million in bids so far. The carrier is the high bidder on 25 spectrum licenses covering 235 million potential customers.

August 11: NextWave strikes back
NextWave Telecom Inc.-backed AWS Wireless Inc. made three of the highest bids in the sixth round of the advanced wireless services spectrum auction, capturing—at least temporarily—the highly coveted Great Lakes regional 20-megahertz license as well as a 20-MHz license that covers 31 million pops in the Mississippi Valley and another that covers about 50 million pops in the West.

August 14:  $4.1B and counting
Bidding is picking up speed in the FCC’s advanced wireless services spectrum auction, with the total value of provisionally winning bids jumping from more than $2.4 billion late Friday to more than $4.1 billion in the two rounds held so far today.

August 15: Verizon Wireless throws weight around
Verizon Wireless staked a claim to all six of the largest licenses for sale in the advanced wireless services auction, bidding $3.5 billion in round 14 of the auction for 20 megahertz of spectrum covering the entire continental United States.

August 16: Satellite players call it quits
Satellite television providers EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Group Inc. have pulled out of the advanced wireless service spectrum auction.

August 17: Dolan Family Drops Out Of Auction; Bids Over $11 Billion

After initially placing big bids, the Dolan family (Dolan Family Holdings, based in Woodbury, N.Y) withdrew from the auction without winning any licenses.  The withdrawal came as the total amount of bids placed in the auction reached almost $11.1 billion. There hasn’t been any bidding on the five most expensive licenses for the past six rounds, raising the possibility that the winning bids for those licenses have already been placed. The top five bids by dollar value have been placed by companies controlled by Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, and a group that includes buyout firm Madison Dearborn Partners.

August 18: Dust settles around Verizon and T-Mobile

The battle for the large regional licenses appears to be largely settled at this point, with Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA Inc. the big winners.

August 21: Bidding remains robust in smaller licenses

Bidding remained active on the ninth day of the auction, as bidders continued to focus their attention on smaller licenses now that bidding on big regional licenses appears to have ended.

August 21: Bidding remains fierce for metro and small regional

Just as at any yard sale after a long weekend, the big, expensive items are long gone and the persistent shoppers have continued to rummage about for the unappreciated gems that add significant value to their own current holdings.

August 23: Bidding nears $13 billion

The total amount raised is creeping toward $13 billion, although each round is raising less money that the previous. However, bidding is still active on a number of licenses; the number of licenses with new high bids continues to hover near 300. 

August 24: Cable gaining steam

Some of the players who were squeezed out of regional spectrum licenses early in the auction seem to be making up the loss with dozens of smaller geographic licenses.

August 25: Bidding slows as third weeken breaks near 

The Sprint Nextel Corp./cable joint venture appears to be achieving a national footprint without the benefit of costly regional licenses.

August 28: Bidding continues to slow

Bidding has slowed dramatically with an average of about 140 new bids placed in the last few rounds. This compares to 240 bids in recent rounds. The leaders in overall bidding are still in place after round 50, and they stack up like this:

  1. T-Mobile at $3.9 billion
  2. Verizon Wireless at $2.8 billion
  3. SpectrumCo at $2.2 billion
  4. MetroPCS at $1.4 billion
  5. Cingular at $1.2 billion

August 29: FCC attempts to spur auction action

In a sign that the auction is drawing nearer to conclusion, the FCC increased the number of bidding rounds per day from 4 to 6. The auction has garnered nearly $13.6 billion in bids following round 58, though the number of bids per round has fallen by half to around 150 bids per round.

August 30: Battle brewing between smaller bidders

NextWave Telecom Inc. continues to elbow other companies for spectrum, holding 144 high bids on spectrum through its AWS Wireless Inc. bidding subsidiary worth about $121 million at the end of round 61.Dobson Communications Corp., has been dueling with AWS for licenses in Maryland, Kentucky and New York. One of the Kentucky licenses, the Kentucky 4-Spencer license, is currently going for about 18 cents per-MHz-per-pop for a total price of $960,000 and is held by NextWave. Meanwhile, Dobson outbid NextWave for spectrum in Glens Falls, N.Y. with an offer of 6 cents per-MHz-per-pop, or $140,000 total.

August 31: Is the end near?

Bidding continues to slow with only 91 new bids being entered in round 67, though the number of bids was up slightly from the 83 bids placed in rounds 65 and 66. The number of bids per round has been below 100 since round 62.

September 1: NextWave, Dobson remain active as auction breaks for holiday

NextWave Telecom Inc. and Dobson Communications Co. are the two most active bidders remaining.  The bidding continued to wind down on Friday, with an average of 63 new bids per round for the last three rounds of the week. Only 110 of the 168 eligible bidders remain. Bidding will resume on Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday. The auction so far has raised about $13.7 billion, and 1,055 of the 1,122 licenses offered have received bids.

September 5: Jousting continues as bidding winds down

The auction continues to creep toward a close, with just 64 bids in recent rounds. Of the 64 new bids placed in round 77, eight came from Dobson, 14 came from NextWave, and another 14 came from Red Rock. Leap chipped in half a dozen, and the Sprint Nextel-cable JV placed four.

September 6: Verizon Wireless kicks T-Mobile USA out of Hawaii

Dobson dominated round 85 placing nearly half of the new bids in the round. Verizon Wireless also re-entered the fray after watching from the sidelines for much of the bidding. The carrier placed a $4.1 million high bid on a 20-megahertz F-block license covering Hawaii; T-Mobile USA Inc. had previously held the license.

September 7: Verizon Wireless shows renewed interest as bids dwindle

Bidding has slowed to a trickle with thirty or fewer new bids received in the last few rounds. But a few tussles are still ongoing, including Verizon Wireless trying to edge the Sprint Nextel Corp.-cable company joint venture out of spectrum in Louisiana. Verizon Wireless is also still fighting for licenses in Hawaii. The nation’s No. 2 carrier had been sitting on the sidelines during most of the auction after picking up several of the most expensive licenses in early rounds.

September 8: Skirmishes continue in Louisiana, Iowa and Hawaii

Spectrum in Louisiana, Iowa and Hawaii is still attracting competition from bidders large and small. After more than 100 rounds of bidding over 22 days, the FCC has received fewer than 20 bids in each of the last three rounds. But battles are still going on. Analysts expect to see the auction go on for at least another week or two, and possibly continue until the end of the month.

September 11 -15: Bidding continues to slow

After 141 rounds, T-Mobile has provisionally won 119 licenses in major markets like New York City and Chicago with offers of almost US$4.2 billion. The auction grossed almost US$13.9 billion on Thursday, but would net about US$13.7 billion, because of discounts offered to entrepreneurial bidders. Four bids were made in the round 141.

September 18: Bidding slows to a crawl and ends

No new bids in round 161 – Auction ends.

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