US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is on course for another multi-billion-dollar auction of sought-after spectrum at the start of next year.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas the agency would begin accepting applications in autumn 2015, ahead of the 2016 contest, according to Reuters.
But the sale of 600MHz frequencies is unusual in that the regulator is buying back spectrum from TV broadcasters, and then selling it to the mobile industry.
Broadcasters have been hostile to the proposal, with NAB mounting a legal challenge to the FCC in September last year, unhappy with how the scheme would work.
However, NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith recently told Mobile World Live that the massive returns from the $44.9 billion AWS-3 auction had made broadcasters more willing to participate in a sell-off of their own frequencies.
Smith is keen for the legal case to be resolved swiftly so the auction can kick on.
The timeline laid out last autumn by Gary Epstein, chair of the FCC’s incentive auction task force, was for applications in autumn of this year, and the actual contest in early 2016. So Wheeler’s comments show the agency is still confident on that timeline, and no new obstacles have been thrown up as all concerned contemplate the vast, potential returns.
Among operators, AT&T has shown the most enthusiasm for the 600MHz frequencies. T-Mobile US and Dish have also said they would take part in the contest.