February 14, 2017 –
The bidding in the clock phase of the incentive auction concluded last Friday, totaling more than $19B for 84 megahertz of spectrum. Far lower than what was expected. BTW, my esteemed colleague Don Bishop predicted the total would be $19B in January’s AGL Magazine. See him for your Powerball numbers.
The Commission took the opportunity to thank staff for their hard work, express hope for the new spectrum use and to do a little Monday morning quarterbacking.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressed hope that the frequencies freed up in the auction would prove beneficial to wireless coverage especially in rural areas. He stressed, however, that more work is needed to successfully complete the spectrum transfer.
“Delivering on the promise of this auction will require a smooth and orderly post-auction transition. That means we must ensure uninterrupted access to over-the-air television and a timely clearing of the new wireless band. We will devote a great deal of attention to those tasks over the coming months, and it will be a top priority of mine as Chairman of this agency,” Chairman Pai said in a prepared statement.
Commissioner Michael O’ Reilly was less sanguine about the auction, criticizing the previous administration’s decisions made in running the auction.
“While I am pleased that the forward auction has closed and we don’t have a failed auction on our hands, significant review is necessary to understand how the FCC rules and auction design impacted the results,” he said in a prepared statement. “Although Congress provided a strong statute to utilize market forces to ensure spectrum is put to its most efficient use, including for necessary wireless voice and data licenses, the previous majority’s implementation appears to have been based on some assumptions that were far off the mark.”
The auction will now proceed to the assignment phase where winners can bid for specific frequency blocks.