FCC to Restart Spectrum Auction Sept. 13

The FCC announced Wednesday that it would launch stage two of the broadcast incentive spectrum auction—new rounds of reverse auction bidding—Sept. 13 and at the expected new, lower clearing target of 114 MHz.

That will mean nine paired blocks of spectrum, down from 10 paired blocks in the initial 126 MHz clearing target. That is also a total of 90 MHz up for bid, with the rest used for guard bands. The initial total was 100 MHz, with the rest guard bands.

The bidding in the reverse auction will begin with one, four-hour round at 10 a.m.-2 p.m., followed on Sept. 14 by two rounds of two hours apiece, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 3 p.m.-5 p.m., until further notice.

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Bidding in stage two of the forward auction will begin the next business day following the close of the reverse auction.

Stage one ended Aug. 30 with the FCC falling $66 billion dollars or so short of covering the $88.4 billion it needed to close the auction at the clearing target of 126 MHz.

Related: CTIA Touts Spectrum Auction Upside

In stage one, the reverse auction took four weeks and the forward two weeks, so if past is prologue, the auction will last at least another six weeks and more if the FCC does not cover the new clearing target and has to lower its sights once again.

The FCC set a high initial clearing target to attract broadcasters willing to give up spectrum, which it did. Wireless companies clearly did not put anything like that on the spectrum or at least concluded they could get what they needed for less money.

Related: NAB Underwhelmed By Wireless Auction Bids

The FCC said a new bidding tutorial for broadcasters participating in the auction and "specific to stage two" will be available starting Sept. 1.

Reverse auction bidders will be able to use the same tokens they used in stage one, and should not have to reset the pin number, the FCC said. But stations whose spectrum was not a winning bidder in the reverse auction or frozen at their opening bid price should return their tokens for recycling, the FCC said.

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.