Advanced Television

FCC auction could top $100bn

June 3, 2016

The FCC’s latest spectrum auction has something of a twist, in that current holders of valuable spectrum can sell off unwanted bandwidth in the auction.

Nevertheless, the FCC is expecting another set of records will be broken and observers have suggested that anything between $60-$100 billions-worth of bandwidth will be re-allocated as ‘old’ TV broadcast frequencies get re-purposed for broadband and WiFi. And if past auctions are a guide it could easily top that $100 billion estimate. Indeed, one report suggests that as the bids get close to $100 billion this sort of sum would exceed the combined market capitalisation of Dish, T-Mobile and Sprint!

In essence it is the 600 MHz band that is being auctioned via the FCC’s 1001-2 processes, along with the old ‘white space’ safety frequencies. The FCC will offer 10 blocks of 10-megahertz paired spectrum in the associated forward-auction (Auction 1002). Twenty-six megahertz of spectrum would be allocated for guard bands and duplex spacing.

Dish Network and Comcast, amongst other major players, have already indicated they’ll participate in the process, although it has been reported that Sprint was not registered to bid.

Bidding opened on May 31st and Rounds 3 and 4 took place yesterday (June 2). Friday sees another pair of rounds take place. The auction will then continue through next week (and perhaps beyond) depending on demand and the willingness of bidders to place ever-larger bids.

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