The FCC is currently in the midst of the last auction for low-band spectrum for at least another decade. They are busy auctioning off 600MHz spectrum to bidders, which include T-Mobile, Verizon, Comcast and many more. But it appears that many of the bidders are showing very little interest in the spectrum. With Stage 4 of the forward auction ending today, after just one round. The total bids for the round amounted to $19,676,240,520. Preston Paddan, a television consultant, stated that "this is not an auction. It is a joke and an abuse of the broadcasters, the FCC and the public, who will be put through a disruptive repacking process that increasingly looks unjustified."
Padden went on to explain that the carriers have walked away – for a second time – from blocks of spectrum that they once told Congress was vital. Carriers also lobbied pretty hard to make the auction fair for smaller carriers with smaller bank accounts. But now it appears that the carriers, even the smaller ones that were lobbying, are not all that interested in the spectrum. Why are carriers not that interested in 600MHz spectrum now? Well it could be the fact that 5G is the future, and it'll make use of mid-band and high-band spectrum much more than low-band, like what is up for auction right now. So perhaps carriers are more focused on the future, instead of the present, especially considering the fact that they won't be able to use this spectrum for a few more years.
Now with Stage 3 ending, in the forward auction, what does that mean for the remainder of the Incentive auction? Well the FCC completed Stage 3 of the reverse auction just last week, which set a target price of $40.3 billion for around 108MHz of spectrum. Of that spectrum, about 80MHz would be available for wireless use. Since the forward portion of the auction did not meet the $40.3 billion goal (not even close), the FCC will need to go back and lower the amount of spectrum available, and also head back to the broadcasters and set a lower clearing cost. Then they will move onto Stage 4, which is likely to kick off as soon as next week. This will continue until the forward auction can hit the target price.