FCC Moves H Block Auction to Jan. 22

The FCC has decided to delay the auction of H block spectrum -- but not by much.

The commission announced that due to the shutdown, the auction will be rescheduled from Jan. 14 to Jan. 22, but that is only an eight-day delay following a 16-day government shutdown.

Applications to participate in the auction will be accepted starting Nov. 4 and ending Nov. 15. An upfront payment is due Dec. 18.

The H block is 10 MHz of advanced wireless spectrum the FCC must auction per statute, the same statute that established the broadcast incentive auction. The FCC has set a reserve price of $1.56 billion on the spectrum. The FCC last held a wireless auction in 2008.

Proceeds from the H Block auction will be used to help pay for a nationwide, interoperable broadband emergency communications network, which the broadcaster incentive auctions are also meant to help pay for. The more the FCC gets from the H Block for that network, the less financial pressure there is on the broadcast incentive auctions to pay for them. But commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is concerned the FCC may be missing the mark by not combining into a single auction all 65 MHz Congress directed be auctioned, which she argues would make it even more valuable and pay for more of that emergency network.

Rosenworcel worked on the incentive auction legislation as a top aide to Senate Commerce chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a driving force behind the network.

The FCC came up with rules of the road for opening up more mobile broadband in the H Block in Clyburn's first public meeting as acting chair.

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.