The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said its Incentive Auction to repurpose broadcast spectrum for mobile operators is entering its closing stages, with minimum bid requirements met.
Yesterday’s notification the “Final Stage Rule” was met means the FCC achieved its reserve price for the cleared 70MHz spectrum and will also make enough money to cover expenses. Successful bidders have yet to be identified and specific blocks have not yet been allocated.
The FCC said bidding will continue until there is “no excess demand in any market”. After the auction closes, winning bidders will be invited to put in requests for specific blocks.
The sale means broadcasters will receive $10.05 billion, with an unspecified amount – defined as being in the billions – going towards deficit reduction at the US Treasury.
Outgoing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said: “The world’s first spectrum incentive auction has delivered on its ambitious promise. Reaching the Final Stage Rule means the benefits of the auction are indisputable.
“We will repurpose 70MHz of high-value, completely clear low-band spectrum for mobile broadband on a nationwide basis. On top of that, 14MHz of new unlicensed spectrum – the test bed for wireless innovation – will be available for consumer devices and new services.”
The final figure is yet to be officially announced, but the figures released suggest it will be a long way short of the numbers originally floated.
Following the completion of the first stage of the process, where broadcasters took part in a reverse auction to offer-up spectrum for sale at the lowest price, the FCC estimated the 126MHz of radio frequencies set to be relinquished were worth $86.4 billion.
However, Reuters quoted a number of analysts who doubted wireless companies would be willing to meet this valuation. In July, the FCC announced 62 bidders had qualified to take part in the buying section of the auction, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Notably Sprint and Google both confirmed they would not be involved.
After several unsuccessful rounds of bidding and a reported reduction in the allocation available, the regulator announced its minimum requirement had finally been met in Stage 4 of the auction.