Bids in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) historic auction of broadcast spectrum topped $11 billion in their first week.
As of early Friday afternoon, according to Broadcasting and Cable, bids had reached $11,059,842,000. Additional rounds of bidding have been conducted since then.
The sale is the first in which the FCC is buying spectrum from broadcast stations and reselling it to wireless providers and other buyers. It’s an attempt to meet the massive demand for spectrum, the invisible electromagnetic waves used by mobile devices, created by data-hungry smartphones.
The spectrum being auctioned off is particularly powerful and therefore especially desirable to wireless carriers involved in the bidding, including AT&T and Verizon. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has predicted that the auction will be a "spectrum extravaganza."
The FCC set the highest possible target for the amount of spectrum sold in the auction, and bidders need to pony up in order to meet the high price set by the broadcaster round of the auction. In total, broadcasters offered to give up more than $86 billion worth of spectrum.
If the bidders in the current phase don’t meet lofty expectations, the FCC will redo the sale while attempting to sell a smaller amount of spectrum. This phase of the sale is likely to take multiple weeks.