Competitive telecom carriers, who say they have been desperately seeking spectrum, applauded the FCC's announcement that enough TV stations had entered the spectrum auction to allow it to try to clear 126 MHz of new spectrum. Their trade group said competitive carriers will be bidding in the forward auction.
Of course, that will only happen if enough of those carriers eager for spectrum bid enough on it to pay broadcasters the winning bid prices. Otherwise that 126 MHz clearing target will be lowered.
Saying that many of its members will be bidding, the Competitive Carriers Association gave the FCC and chairman Tom Wheeler credit for generating that interest.
"I am very pleased with the initial clearing target of 126 MHz, and thank the Commission, in particular the Incentive Auction Task Force, for its diligent work to ensure a high target was achieved,” said CCA president Steven K. Berry. “Competitive carriers desperately need access to additional spectrum, and we knew there was significant wireless carrier interest in participating in this auction."
"We are pleased broadcasters feel the same, and the high spectrum clearing target number is certainly good for promoting competition throughout the industry."
That was the highest target the FCC had aimed for after its initial 144 was scrapped due to coordination issues along the Canadian border. He said it was "especially good news for competitive carriers as the spectrum reserve is comprised of Category 1 licenses, approximately 9% of the blocks offered for the forward auction will be ‘Category 1’ blocks, and 99% of the ‘Category 1’ blocks will not be impaired – allowing reserve eligible participants to reap the full benefits of this incredibly valuable spectrum.”
The FCC said that 99% of the spectrum blocks will have no TV station in them—some stations are being put in the wireless spectrum to allow the FCC to clear enough for nationwide blocks—due to robust TV station participation.
The Telecommunications Industry Association, whose members build out the high-tech communications networks that the freed-up wireless broadband spectrum will help power, was also pleased.
“The announcement that 126 MHz of spectrum may be made available through the broadcast spectrum auction is a great development," said TIA CEO Scott Belcher. "Achieving this target would be a big step towards ensuring that communications networks can support exploding mobile broadband demand. While the auction is anticipated to generate significant revenues, the economic activity that will enabled by so much new spectrum will be even greater.
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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.