FCC Announces Results of Wireless Spectrum Incentive Auction

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced the closing results of the broadcast incentive auction. This first-in-the-world incentive auction allowed telecommunications providers to bid on spectrum licenses owned by broadcasters. Broadcasters voluntarily participated to relinquish airwaves for mobile use in exchange for a portion of the winning bids.

Competitive carriers and new entrants like T-Mobile, Comcast, and Dish Network secured most of the newly freed-up spectrum, while broadcasters secured $10 billion in compensation out of total auction revenues of $19.8 billion. The auction freed up 84 MHz of spectrum nationwide, including 14 MHz for use by wireless microphones and unlicensed technologies.

The following can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“We’ve long maintained that the incentive auction presented a rare chance for a spectrum policy win-win-win - necessary spectrum is freed up to meet demand for mobile broadband, more spectrum is made available for unlicensed use, and those interested in giving up their spectrum are compensated for their trouble.

“It is encouraging to see that competitive carriers and potential new entrants secured the majority of the spectrum auctioned. Low-band spectrum is critically important to competition in the wireless industry, and the incentive auction seems, at first look, to have expanded ownership of low-band spectrum beyond those few carriers with dominant low-band holdings. The Commission’s auction rules that encouraged widespread participation in the forward auction and promoted competition appear to have been successful.

“With regards to unlicensed spectrum, we’re pleased with the amount of unlicensed spectrum made available at this clearing level. Unlicensed spectrum is a substantial driver of economic growth and innovation, and low-band unlicensed spectrum is particularly valuable for applications including rural broadband. Some questions remain, however, and we look forward to working productively with the FCC to ensure that this important unlicensed spectrum is protected as the transition period moves forward.”

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