The FCC auction for 1,122 new telecomm licenses has now reached the dizzying height of 11.1 billion USD in total bids. The top five bids by dollar value have been placed by companies controlled by Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, and a group that includes buyout firm Madison Dearborn Partners. There hasn’t been any bidding on the five most expensive licenses for the past six rounds, raising the possibility that the winning bids for those licenses have already been placed (and that T-Mobile has done what is necessary to upgrade its services).
The high bidding prices have caused many a interested party to back out without winning any licenses. For example, a company owned by Cablevision Systems founder Charles Dolan dropped out despite having made a deposit of almost $150 million for its right to bid on the licenses.
It may seem a little excessive that so much money is being passed around over these licenses, but when you consider that they’re essentially bidding for the future of the telecomm industry in the US, it makes a bit more sense. But only a bit.