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FCC Releases Spectrum Auction Items

The FCC Tuesday released the orders for its broadcast incentive auction public notice--the bidding framework for broadcasters--and its mobile spectrum holdings reconsideration decision preserving 30 MHz of that spectrum in the forward auction for competitors to AT&T and Verizon.

The FCC voted on those last week, and outlined their highpoints during the meeting. But the release of the order allows the public to kick the tires on exactly what the FCC said. The time between the vote and the order release allows for edits and the order to reflect the dissents lodged by the Republican commissioner who did not support either.

The auction procedures order includes an opening price calculation that will mean opening prices of up to $900 million in the reverse auction.

Other highlights include the FCC's decision to drop dynamic reserve pricing and to allow for some stations to be repacked in the wireless band so as not to overly constrain the total amount of contiguous spectrum it can free up.

That may include putting a few stations in the duplex gap where unlicensed and wireless mics (used for newsgathering, sports, theater and more) are being housed, something that the National Association of Broadcasters and some wireless operators are not happy with .

The FCC said it heard from parties advocating for not putting stations in the gap, or in the uplink or downlink portions of the wireless band, but that it would not exclude any of those possibilities.

In the mobile spectrum holdings order, T-Mobile had wanted the reserve spectrum, on which it could bid without having to bid against AT&T and Verizon, to trigger earlier in the auction, and had asked the FCC to expand that reserve to 40 MHz so that at least two competitors could get the 20 MHz for a competitive nationwide service.

AT&T and Verizon had opposed expanding the reserve or moving up the trigger, saying there was no basis to assume competitors would be foreclosed, or that they could not bid on non-reserved spectrum as well as reserved and in that was create new competitors. They also pointed out that if the spectrum were increased, two reserve-eligible bidders would divide it and not have to bid against each other for a fair market price."

The FCC stuck with 30 MHz, saying that was still the best way to balance "various competing statutory and public goals."