Bidding Starts Tomorrow in CBRS Auction

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UPDATE Bidding is slated to begin Thursday in the FCC’s Citizens Broadband Radio Systems (CBRS) auction. 271 qualified bidders can take part. Auction 105 will offer 22,631 Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3550-3650 MHz portion of the 3.5 GHz band. A Raymond James analyst pegs the total value of the mid-band spectrum licenses at potentially $10 billion.

Past sales offered licenses covering entire metropolitan areas at prices that only large carriers such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. could afford. This one offers smaller licenses — seven in each county in the country for a total of 22,631. That means smaller telecoms, and other companies with new uses for the technology, can bid on spectrum rights in their local areas.  

Mid-tier telecoms like Carolina West Wireless and Cincinnati Bell are on the list as well as electric co-ops like the Benton Rural Electric Association and the Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inside Towers reported. Several businesses and schools plan to bid, including: Deere & Company, Duke University and Health System, and the University of Kentucky. Utilities and electricity distributors could use their winnings to expand wireless broadband networks, manage electricity distribution, and install remote meter-reading.

“It’s really a game-changer for all of these non-traditional users,” said Kurt Schaubach, chief technology officer with Federated Wireless, a company based in Arlington, Virginia, that helps coordinate use of the spectrum being auctioned.

“We’ve never had an auction of this size,” FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly told Bloomberg. He helped guide the auction’s design. Auction winners can only buy four of the seven licenses available in each county, ensuring that no single user can get all of an area’s licenses. Each of the seven licenses provides rights to use the spectrum across an entire county.

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