700 MHz Auction: Day 3, the status quo remains

The FCC upped the intensity of the auction today, hosting four rounds of bidding today instead of the two daily rounds of last week. Despite the doubling of activity of Day 3, nothing too startling occurred.Except for aslight hiccup inC-block bidding inround 6, the auction is essentially in the same state as we left it at the end of week one: bidding ramped up leisurely on the C-block open-access license, the D-block public-safety license was untouched and the really nasty fighting occurred over regional and market licenses in New York,Southern California and Chicago. In total, the auction has no generated $6.1 billion in high bids.

Round 6 was the first and only round so far in which the C-block failed to generate a bid, but the competition picked right back up again in Round 7 and the total eventually $2.98 billion by the end of the day. We may be seeing a few more of those hiccups in coming rounds, though. Minimum bids for the C-block are getting steeper — in round 9, a bid of $3.42 billion is necessary to take the lead. At the pace it’s currently at, the auction will quickly hit the reserve price of $4.6 billion in the next few rounds. That should make Google very happy, since once block C clears that threshold, the open-access provision on the spectrum — which requires the winner to allow any device or application operate on its network — are activated. That could lead one to suspect that Googlewasthebidder that gave bidding a slight nudge after round 6 to keep it going… (For the full bid results see the FCC’s Auction 73 page.)

While there is still no second bid on the D-block license, the Public Safety Spectrum Trust — which ultimately handle the 10 MHz of spectrum reserved for emergency use — probably isn’t too worried just yet. While there is the off chance that the auction could end this week, it will likely last for several weeks more if not extend to the end of next month. In Round 8, 960 bids were placed, so the intense activity on other bands in the auction are likely to propel it for some time.

One interesting item to note: the most hotly contestedpropertyat the end of the day wasn’t the Los Angeles license (which has drawn 8 bids each round) but a 10 MHz license in San Antonio, Texas, which garnered 10 separate bids in Round 8. The license price has only reached $3.3 million. Compared to the $213 million price on the equivalent license in NYCand $96 millionbidonthe LA license, $3.3 million is small potatoes. They may be firing small-caliber rounds in Texas, but they are sure are taking a lot of shots.

The auction resumes at 9 AM ET on Tuesday.

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