With all of the heavy hitters participating in the FCC auction of 600MHz spectrum, it was believed that the process, once started, would get done rather quickly. But the auction of this valuable low frequency spectrum has turned into a poker game. Up for grabs is 108MHz of spectrum that would actually result in 80MHz of licensed spectrum for use. The low frequency airwaves are valuable because they travel farther and penetrate buildings better than higher-frequency spectrum.
When Stage 2 failed to garner enough bids to top the clearing cost, the amount of spectrum offered was reduced and Stage 3 begun. But this stage drew $19.7 billion with a clearing cost of $40.3 billion. That means bidders like Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T bid just 49% of the clearing cost.
"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. The question is why the carriers lobbied so hard for a statute to authorize an auction of spectrum they don't want. The carriers now have twice walked away from blocks of spectrum they told Congress was ‘vital’ and for which they predicted bidding as high as $48 billion"-Preston Padden, television consultant
So now the FCC will meet with the television stations that own the spectrum, and will reduce the amount offered once again. A new clearing cost will be computed and Stage 4 is expected to start on December 13th. If the clearing cost is topped, the auction moves to the final stage. If not, Stage 5 awaits.