Skip to main content

Questions Aplenty on FCC Incentive Auction Framework

The FCC is going through "a whole bunch of edits and
questions" from commissioners' offices on the upcoming spectrum auction
framework notice of proposed rulemaking, which is scheduled for a vote Friday, Sept.
28. Those questions include the wisdom of holding simultaneous auctions, as the
FCC is proposing.

According to a source familiar with the edit chain,
questions include whether the FCC is setting aside too much spectrum for
unlicensed use, and whether it might make more sense to do the auctions

According to the proposed simultaneous auction model, the
FCC would take the lowest broadcaster bids, run them through a repacking model (as
yet to be determined), decide which spectrum is needed, then turn around and
offer that spectrum to wireless companies and others to the highest bidder in
the forward auction. If nobody bids at that level, the FCC then goes back and
says: "Nobody on the wireless side was willing to pay that much, how much
less will you take?"

The repacking model the FCC will run that spectrum through
will not be the allocation optimization model (AOM) talked about in the
National Broadband Plan. Instead, the FCC will propose various approaches
before it votes on final rules and give broadcasters and others a chance to
weigh in, according to an FCC spokesman.

"Broadcasters have been waiting for a long time for
specifics on how the FCC intends to implement the incentive auction program,"
the National Association of Broadcasters said in a statement. "We look forward
to this week's NPRM, and we intend to work with the FCC and Congress to ensure
that millions of viewers who rely on stations that won't be volunteering to go
out of business will remain unharmed."

The FCC is proposing to vote on final auction and repacking
rules by the middle of 2013, and finish the auction process by the end of 2014.