The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) disclosed what it is willing to pay TV stations for acquiring their spectrum, which will be resold to mobile operators in its planned incentive auction.
This is the first stage in a process that will subsequently involve the US regulator re-auctioning the frequencies in early 2016 to operators craving spectrum for mobile broadband.
The FCC is attempting to lure TV stations with bids as high as $900 million in New York City. Other leading US cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, also carry big bids. Bids tail off for more remote or rural locations. A station in the Virgin Islands will fetch only $10 million, for instance.
The bids are expected to come down over time, as the FCC uses a reverse auction to encourage TV stations to commit early to cashing in their frequencies.
Station owners will now mull over whether they want to participate. The filing window opens on 1 December and closes 18 December. Releasing prices now gives broadcasters at least 60 days to consider the prices on offer.
The broadcasters also have a choice over the type of bid they make. The deadline for that choice is 29 March 2016. Either they choose to give up their licence or agree to move to another set of frequencies.
Companies that want to participate in the second stage of the auction need to register their interest by 28 January 2016.