Carriers will bid for the support in a reverse auction, and bids will be awarded on the basis of maximizing the population covered by new mobile services, without exceeding the $50 million budget. Winning bidders will be able to provide service to the highest populations while requesting the lowest levels of support. The auction will provide a 25 percent bidding credit to tribally-owned or -controlled providers. The Public Notice asks whether the reverse auction should use a single- or multiple-round design. It also asks whether there should be any maximum acceptable per-unit bid amounts, reserve amounts, or maximum opening bid amounts in the auction.
In order to participate in the auction, a carrier must be designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier (“ETC”) for the areas on which it bids. The carrier must also certify that it is financially and technically capable of providing 3G or better service. Auction winners will be subject to requirements, including performance, coverage, collocation, voice and data roaming requirements, and tribal engagement obligations. Winners will have to deploy either 3G service within two years or 4G service within three years, and the Public Notice proposes requiring winning carriers to serve at least 75 percent of the population in each area. Winning carriers must certify that they will offer service at comparable rates for similar services in urban areas. Auction winners must also procure a letter of credit to secure the Commission’s support, along with an opinion letter from counsel.
The Public Notice seeks comment on a list of potentially eligible census blocks, which can be accessed at http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/902. Any census block that was given support in Auction 901 will not be eligible to receive support in Auction 902. The Public Notice proposes that auction participants bid on tracts of grouped census blocks, which may make it easier to provide service.
Comments on the Public Notice are due by May 10, and Reply Comments are due by May 24. The Commission will release another Public Notice announcing the auction’s procedures after it has reviewed the comments.
If you have any questions regarding the upcoming Auction or Public Notice, please feel free to contact the TLP Team.