The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) latest auction of mid-band spectrum for 5G got off to a slow start as bidding in the opening week was hampered by the limited use of the 2.5GHz band licences on offer.

Auction 108 covers 8,017 county-based overlay licences across the US with many of them in rural areas. After 11 rounds on 5 August, bids totalled a little more than $150 million.

T-Mobile US’ acquisition of Sprint means it already owns or leases a large portion of the 2.5GHz spectrum and prospective bidders are cautious of bidding on licences surrounded by it’s assets.

Sasha Javid, COO for network business BitPath, posted on LinkedIn the demand at the start of the auction had been “very tepid”, putting Auction 108 at the low end of previous auctions at the same stage.

The 2.5GHz spectrum band was previously used for educational broadband services until former FCC chair Ajit Pai pushed to free it up for other uses in 2018.