FCC 600 MHz incentive auction stage three set to begin Nov. 1
The FCC’s third attempt to find a match between television broadcasters and telecom operators for 600 MHz spectrum is set, though will result be the same?
The Federal Communications Commission’s third attempt to match television broadcaster financial demands with telecom industry willingness to pay for 600 MHz spectrum licenses is set to begin on Nov. 1.
The FCC said it would begin stage three of reverse auction bidding with plans to clear 108 megahertz of total spectrum from television broadcasters that it would then repackage into 80 megahertz of clean spectrum for telecom operators to bid on as part of the forward auction process.
If achieved, telecom operators will be bidding on a total of 3,303 blocks of spectrum, each of which with 10 megahertz of capacity. The licenses would be broken into partial economic area-sized chunks, with each PEA having up to eight blocks of spectrum up for grabs.
The two previous attempts to align financial demands with willingness to spend failed to find match.
Stage one of the process witnessed broadcasters requesting more than $86 billion for 100 megahertz of clean spectrum, with telecom operators halting their bidding at a mere $23 billion. Stage two had broadcasters asking for $56.5 billion for 90 megahertz of cleared spectrum, which failed to generate more than one round of forward auction bidding from telecom operators.
In terms of timing, stage one and two of the reverse auction each lasted for about a month, which could push the completion of stage three into December if taking into account days off connected with upcoming holidays. With the FCC needing about a week to repackage reverse auction spectrum, stage three of the forward auction could begin sometime in early December.
Analysts have noted the 70-megahertz clearing target is the more likely round in which supply and demand meet, noting the band plan associated with that stage most aligns with repackaging challenges and telecom operator interest.
The 70-megahertz mark is also the magic number for T-Mobile US and other carriers with a dearth of sub-1 GHz spectrum holdings. Pre-auction rules included a set aside provision that called for 30 megahertz of at least 70 megahertz of spectrum to be auctioned off outside the reach of companies with a dominate position in sub-1 GHZ spectrum holdings, which among larger operators is limited to Verizon Communications and AT&T.