FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a one-year delay in kicking off the Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction until the middle of 2015. In a blog posting, Wheeler said additional time is needed for public commentary and for putting in place the rules of the road for the auction, including developing the actual procedures for how the auction will be conducted.
Despite the delay, Wheeler said he is mindful of the national interest in making more spectrum available for use, and the importance of generating funds from the auction for the FirstNet emergency responders network.
- In September 2012, the FCC voted to approve plans for the first incentive auction to repurpose broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband use.
The major outlines of the incentive auction are given as follow in the FCC's NPRM:
(1) a “reverse auction” in which broadcast television licensees submit bids to voluntarily relinquish
spectrum usage rights in exchange for payments. The reverse auction consists of three broad issues: bid collection, determination of which bids are accepted, and determination of payment amounts to winners.
(2) a reorganization or “repacking” of the broadcast television bands in order to free up a portion of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band for other uses. Repacking involves reorganizing the broadcast television bands so that the television stations that remain on the air after the incentive auction occupy a smaller portion of the UHF band, subject to interference and other constraints imposed by the Spectrum Act and treaties with Canada and Mexico. The goal it to configure a portion of the UHF band into contiguous blocks of spectrum suitable for flexible use.
- In March 2013, the FCC officially notified the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce that it plans to commence the auction of licenses in the 1695–1710 MHz band and the 1755–1780 MHz band as early as September 2014. The FCC is required to give notice at least 18 months prior to the commencement of any spectrum auction.
NTIA recently identified the 1695-1710 MHz band as the 15 megahertz of spectrum between 1675 MHz and 1710 MHz to be reallocated from federal use to non-federal use. The Spectrum Act now requires the Commission to allocate this identified spectrum for commercial use and to license the spectrum by February 2015.
The FCC also noted that Congress has also directed it to license the 2155-2 180 MHz band, and other bands, by February 2015.