CTIA Touts Spectrum Auction Upside

CTIA, which represents wireless companies, was taking a glass-half-full view of the spectrum auction's failure to meet its initial clearing target of 126 MHz of spectrum.

The FCC needed to raise $88.4 billion to pay broadcasters the price of the spectrum the FCC set in combination with broadcasters, plus the cost of the auction and repacking those broadcasters after the auction. The first stage of the forward auction closed this week without getting anywhere near that price, raising only $22.45 billion in bids from wireless operators and others.

In a blog on the results, CTIA VP of regulatory affairs Scott Bergmann pointed out that the first stage had "already generated the second-highest bidding total in FCC history."

"This is already bigger than the last low-band auction of 700 MHz ($18.96 billion) that was heralded at the time by the FCC as a "history-making auction, " he pointed out.

He also pointed out that the FCC designed the auction for multiple stages—nine of them. Bergmann said it was widely expected that the auction would not close after the first stage.

Bergmann said the spectrum is still "much-needed." But the first stage of the auction showed that though much-needed, it was not sufficiently needed to justify the price broadcasters and the FCC were asking.

The National Association of Broadcasters suggested the underwhelming total for the first stage might indicate that the "spectrum crisis" being used to justify the broadcast spectrum reclamation project was overblown.

John Eggerton

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.