Kaplan: Incentive Auction Could Be Late 2015, Early 2016

National Association of Broadcasters executive VP and spectrum auction point person Rick Kaplan said Wednesday that he thought the broadcast incentive auction may move to later in 2015 or perhaps even 2016.

His comments came at an incentive auction panel at a Competitive Carriers Association Global Expo audience in San Antonio, Tex.

A T-Mobile panelist also suggested that later in 2015 sounded about right.

An FCC spokesperson had no comment, but referred to statements from Chairman Tom Wheeler about the firmness of that mid-2105 date. Wheeler moved the timetable from 2014 to mid-2015 back in December 2013.

But Kaplan suggested that given the predictions of a robust AWS-3 spectrum auction later this year--combined with the $1.564 billion collected from the H Block auction earlier this year--there should be less financial pressure on the incentive auction timetable.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler senior counselor Phil Verveer has signaled he thought the first two auctions--H Block and AWS-3--would pay for most of all the financial obligations in the statute, which is primarily the $7 billion for FirstNet, the interoperable national broadband network.

Kathleen Ham, VP, federal regulatory affairs, for T-Mobile said that 84 MHz was the "sweet spot" figure for reclaiming broadcast spectrum--the FCC had initially wanted 120 MHZ, but eventually conceded it would likely be less.

She said getting even that figure would depend on how many of Kaplan's members showed up. Kaplan agreed, but said that it was hard to predict how much the FCC would get. He said the goal should be 84, but that that could be a tough ask in some major markets.

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.