Today, the FCC held its September Open Meeting where it unanimously approved both a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to launch an incentive auction that will repurpose broadcast television spectrum for mobile broadband and a second NPRM that will initiate a comprehensive review of the Commission’s policies on mobile spectrum holdings.
The incentive auction NPRM will describe three stages of the proposed auction: (1) a reverse auction where broadcast television licensees submit bids to voluntarily relinquish their spectrum for payment; (2) a repacking of the broadcast television bands in order to free a portion of the ultra-high frequency band for other uses; and (3) a forward auction for flexible use of the newly available spectrum. The NPRM will seek comment on how each portion of the auction should be designed, what options broadcasters should be able to choose from to make spectrum available, how to repack television stations so their audiences are preserved and disruption to viewers is minimized, whether a proposed band plan for reclaimed spectrum using 5 megahertz blocks and 6 megahertz guard bands is advisable, and how to make spectrum available for unlicensed uses. After the meeting, the FCC issued a News Release that announces and summarizes the incentive auction NPRM.
The NPRM on mobile spectrum holdings will launch a comprehensive review of the Commission’s current policies on this matter, which have not been reviewed in over a decade. In this NPRM, the Commission will seek comment on the effectiveness of the current case-by-case analysis approach to transactions and auctions and will ask whether bright-line limits should be adopted in these situations. The NPRM will also consider the possible thresholds to be applied to the spectrum screen, such as the bands to be included, the geographic markets, and whether there should be differential treatment of different spectrum bands.
The Commission has not yet released either NPRM, but we will circulate copies of each document as they become publicly available.
If you have any questions regarding the topics discussed in this meeting, please feel free to contact the TLP Team.