Final gavel comes down in déjà vu Auction No. 92. 

It took the FCC less than a week of bidding to unload 16 Advanced Wireless Service licenses in Auction No. 92. The auction, which wrapped up July 25, attracted $20,402.000 in high bids for spectrum previously occupied by TV Channels 52-69. The handful of licenses on the block cover a few small areas scattered around the county. 

If the 16 licenses looked a tad familiar, that’s not surprising.  It was the second time that these particular licenses had been up for grabs. They had been offered to bidders in the initial AWS auction in 2008.  Readers may recall that that auction lasted several weeks and raked in $19.6 billion for the U.S. Treasury. What readers may not recall is that, when the 2008 auction ended, these 16 licenses stayed put with the FCC: the high bidders either withdrew their bids or never got around to paying for the licenses. (Alltel was the high bidder for five of the licenses. Seven others, mostly in Puerto Rico, would have gone to VentureTel 700, if it had paid the FCC for them.)

The prices fetched for the licenses on re-auction were, by and large, comparable to their 2008 counterparts. However, there were several notable differences: at $1.9 million, Lubbock, Texas, resold for more than 2.5 times its 2008 price; at the other extreme, the Virginia 1 CMA market resold for $143,000, one-tenth of the high 2008 bid. 

Because this auction involved only 16 licenses – as opposed to the 1100 licenses sold in 2008 – the sample size is probably too small to provide any reliable insight on the current valuation of wireless spectrum.

Although the FCC is reporting that the total revenue from this auction is $20,402,000, the net amount likely to reach the FCC’s coffers will likely be lower due to small business bidding discounts. This auction was conducted with anonymous bidding, so bidders weren’t aware of the identity of their competition. When the FCC formally releases the list of winning bidders, it will identify the bidders and the bidding discounts to which they were entitled.

A list of the markets and winning bids (both 2008 and 2011) follows: 

Market                                   2008 Price      2011 Price

Lubbock, TX                              $721,000      $1,915,000

Texas 12 – Hudspeth                $238,000            $42,000

Wheeling, WV                           $152,000         $427,000

Fargo, ND                              $1,412,000      $1,435,000

Grand Forks, ND                    $1,042,000        $926,000

Bismark, ND                           $1,007,000      $1,265,000

Virginia 1 – Lee                      $1,400,000         $143,000

NC 2 – Yancey                        $1,880,000       $1,606,000

SC 1 – Oconee                            $26,000          $103,000

SC 6 – Clarendon                   $2,203,000      $1,345,000

Aguadilla, PR                            $204,000       $1,281,000

Arecibo, PR                                $401,000          $800,000

Mayaguez, PR                           $547,000       $2,599,000

Ponce, PR                                  $590,000       $3,065,000

PR 2 – Adjuntas                         $134,000       $2,913,000

PR 3 – Ciales                                $38,000          $537,000