The FCC will announce rules for its AWS-3 spectrum auction, which is set to begin later this year. In this auction, the FCC will likely include up to 40 megahertz of spectrum to be auctioned in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band, in economic area-sized chunks. The remaining 10 megahertz of spectrum will likely be set aside in commercial market area chunks. The size of spectrum licenses is a hot topic. If all the licenses are economic or commercial size chunks, some argue that smaller operators will be unfairly penalized and small cell rollouts could suffer from lack of spectrum in areas.
Finally, for those of you interested in the 600 MHz band, the FCC has officially pushed back plans to auction that spectrum until the middle of 2015. This hints that the complex task faced by the agency to free up these spectrum resources using a controversial incentive auction process may be more troubled that was indicated. The incentive auction was proposed in late 2012 as part of the federal government’s plan to meet President Obama’s mandate to free up 500 megahertz of new spectrum for wireless services by 2020.
Incentive auctions are a bit of a different breed. Such auctions rely on cooperation from spectrum holders, in this case, television broadcasters that are being asked to give up spectrum holdings in the 600 MHz band in return for financial compensation. It approaches it by a reverse auction process. Basically, the model is a reverse auction to determine broadcasters’ participation, and then the spectrum repacking and auction must take place – interesting concept.
— Ernest Worthman, editor, AGL Small Cell Magazine