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FCC postpones wireless spectrum auction to 2016

The FCC is asking TV station owners to switch or share frequencies to free up spectrum.
October 27, 2014

According to an FCC official in a blog post, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) next major auction of low-frequency airwaves will be pushed back to early 2016 because of a pending court challenge. This is the second time that the auction has been pushed back. In 2014, the FCC moved the auction to mid-2015 due to the complexity of the auction.

The FCC is putting together rules for the auction where wireless carriers will get the opportunity to purchase airwaves that are considered the “beach-front property” of radio spectrum for their reach and strength.

The pending court challenge comes from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) who are concerned about the FCC auction process which could potentially impact TV stations. The NAB has petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the FCC’s planned auction process.

“We are confident we will prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016.” – Gary Epstein, FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force

The FCC is specifically asking TV station owners to switch and/or share frequencies with other stations in a bid to free up spectrum in the 600MHz band.

All large carriers are expected to participate, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and satellite provider Dish Network. The billions expected to be raised from the auction will go towards building a broadband emergency communications network.