The Federal Communications Commission said 82 applicants have qualified to bid on new midband spectrum in the upcoming 2.5-GHz auction scheduled to begin July 29. The FCC said 11 applicants had not qualified.
Qualified bidders include AT&T, Verizon Communications, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular.
Bidders can get early access to the bidding system July 22 and the FCC will hold a mock auction July 26 and 27.
The real auction will begin with a single, six-hour, bidding round July 29 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.), and move to two, two-hour rounds on August 1 (10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2 p.m.-4 p.m.) going forward, with the pace of the auction changing depending on the progress of the bidding. The FCC increases the number of rounds and decreases the length to goose the auction when bidding slows.
The FCC is opening up midband spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band for 5G. It is currently used, the FCC says underused, by educational broadband services (EBS).
EBS, formerly Instructional Television Fixed Service, or ITFS, was used in the 1960s for closed-circuit broadcasts to educational institutions, but was rebooted in the early 2000s and pointed toward broadband.
The FCC has eliminated use requirements and leasing restrictions on the band.
It also created an early local priority window for tribal nations that drew over 400 applications. ■
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.