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FCC Expected to Set AWS-3 Reserve Price Monday

Look for the FCC's Wireless Bureau Monday to put out a public notice establishing the start date and reserve price for the AWS-3 (advanced wireless services spectrum) auction, which Wheeler has signaled will be held by year's end and could relieve financial pressure on the broadcast incentive auction.

That is according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's prepared testimony to Congress for a May 20 oversight hearing.

It will be the largest amount of spectrum auctioned since the FCC's 2008 700 MHz auction. The AWS-3 auction will put 65 MHz up for grabs.

The AWS3 spectrum auction is requiring some relocation of government spectrum users, which Wheeler has described previously as an "unnatural act" for those agencies. In his testimony, he again thanked DOJ, DOD and the White House for being willing to engage in that act, as well as the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which oversees government spectrum and has been charged by the White House with finding ways to free up more government spectrum, just as the FCC is doing on the commercial side.

AWS-3 is the second of three spectrum auctions mandated by Congress to fund the FirstNet interoperable broadband network, as well as local first responders, advanced 911, R&D, and deficit reduction.

The first auction, or H block spectrum, collected $1.564 billion toward that goal (FirstNet alone is $7 billion), but the FCC is already predicting that the AWS-3 auction will raise most if not all of that $7 billion, putting less pressure on the third auction, the broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for 2015, although Congress is looking to get $20 billion or so for deficit reduction out of that trio, so there will still be some pressure to go around.