Chairman Pai released a Statement this afternoon announcing that bidding in the clock phase of the incentive auction has concluded. The auction will now proceed to the assignment phase, where winning forward auction bidders can bid for specific frequency blocks.
In his statement, Pai congratulated the winners in the reverse and forward auctions, and stated that the release of low-band airwaves will improve wireless coverage nationally and will play an important role in rural mobile broadband deployment. He further states that a timely clearing access of the new wireless band will be one of his top priorities as Chairman in the coming months.
Gary Epstein, Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force, released a comprehensive blog post detailing the closing figures and next steps of the auction. The auction closed with $19.6 billion in gross winning bids and will generate more than $6 billion to the U.S. Treasury, more than $10 billion to broadcasters, and up to $1.75 billion for other broadcasters that incur costs in changing channels. The next phases of the auction are as follows:
- Assignment Phase – This next step for forward auction winning bidders, will be an assignment phase where they can bid for frequency-specific licenses. Bidding in this phase is not mandatory for winning bidders; they will still receive the number of license blocks they won regardless of whether or not they bid in the assignment phase. The schedule for the assignment phase will be announced via Public Notice “in the near future” and the Commission “expect[s] that bidder education and assignment phase bidding will take several weeks.”
- Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice – Following the closing of bidding in the assignment phase, the Commission will prepare a Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice announcing the formal close of the incentive auction and providing important information about the winners and post-auction TV band.
- Post-Auction Transition – The release of the Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice also marks the start of the 39-month transition of the 600 MHz band. The previously released Transition Scheduling Plan established the methodology to determine the order and schedule of stations transition to new channels.
- Seeking Comments – The Commission is currently accepting comments in the record on which stations should submit transition status reports to enable the commission and the public to monitor progress reports.
Commissioner O’Rielly also issued a statement on the close of Clock Phase bidding, asserting that although he is pleased with the close of the forward auction, “significant review is necessary to understand how the FCC rules and auction design impacted the results.” He further notes that there is much work to be done to minimize disruptions during the clearing of the spectrum blocks, criticizing the previous majority in its method of interpreting and implementing its Congressional authority to manage spectrum efficiently.
The Auction Public Reporting System provides up-to-date information about the closing of the auction via the Incentive Auction Dashboard, available here.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions.