Next Steps for Auction of TV Broadcast Airwaves to Commercial Carriers [October 21, 2016] [open pdf - 120KB]
"The closing phases of an incentive auction process to license airwaves currently used for television broadcasting began on August 16, 2016. Bidding for commercial licenses in the first stage concluded on August 30, without meeting rules and conditions established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC therefore scheduled a second stage to set new targets for clearing spectrum. The reverse auction of Stage 2 concluded on October 17, establishing $54.6 billion as the amount to be met by wireless carriers in the next forward auction, beginning October 19. Licenses covering 90 MHz of spectrum were offered but the auction concluded after one round, with bids reaching $20.95 billion. The FCC will now set new targets for Stage 3, conducting new reverse and forward auctions. [...] The proceeds of the auction are expected to pay billions of dollars to broadcasters that relinquish their spectrum holdings and may alter the competitive environment for wireless broadband if new entrants acquire spectrum licenses in the auction. [...] Key requirements for this auction were established by Congress in Title VI (Spectrum Act) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96). The act requires a reverse auction to determine the amount of compensation broadcasters would be willing to accept for the radio frequencies they voluntarily release for auction. Radio frequency spectrum released by TV broadcasters is to be repurposed for commercial broadband communications, with licenses sold through what the act refers to as a forward auction. [...] The likelihood of the auction generating extra revenue for the federal treasury seems slight."
CRS Insight, IN10531
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html