Reps. Ask FCC to Maximize Revenue in AWS-3 Auction

The bipartisan team of Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) have asked the FCC to make sure that it puts maximizing revenue top of mind when it outlines rules for the AWS-3 auction, which it plans to at its March 31 meeting.

That is the second of three spectrum auctions (the first was H Block, the last the broadcast incentive auction) to free up wireless spectrum while raising money to pay for first responder broadband network, FirstNet.

The Obama Administration wants to free up 500 MHz of spectrum for wireless over the next eight years.

The legislators said they recognized that the FCC has to balance interests like band plans, license areas and block sizes, but stressed the importance ot "creating strong incentives for wireless carriers to compete in the auction."

The H Block auction, which closed Feb. 27, raised $1.574 billion toward FirstNet's approximately $7 billion price tag.

The more money raised by the first two auctions, the less pressure there is on the broadcast incentive auction to do the heavy lifting.

Phil Verveer, counselor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, said last week that the first two auctions should cover most and perhaps all of the financial obligations in the statue mandating those auctions.

Revenue maximizing is what AT&T, Verizon and the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition want out of the incentive auction as well. They are concerned that the FCC may adjust its spectrum screen to limit new low-band holdings, which could affect the ability of AT&T and Verizon to bid since they currently have the majority of low-band spectrum.

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.