January 19, 2017 — The end is in sight for the FCC’s first incentive spectrum auction. Bidding in round two of stage four of the forward auction satisfied the requirements of the incentive auction’s final stage rule. More specifically, the estimated net proceeds reached $17.65B, which surpassed the target of $12.0B. Bidding will continue in stage four until the commission ascertains that there is no excess demand in any market.
The success of the incentive auction gave FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler a sweet victory right before his planned exit from his post tomorrow.
“The world’s first spectrum incentive auction has delivered on its ambitious promise. Reaching the Final Stage Rule means the benefits of the auction are indisputable,” Wheeler said in a prepared statement. “It is appropriate to acknowledge and thank some of those who helped us get here. For more than four years, Gary Epstein, chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force, has led a team of professionals more than 100 strong to assure that our actions were carefully coordinated and considered the public and stakeholder interests from all angles.”
The FCC will repurpose 70 MHz of high-value, completely clear low-band spectrum for mobile broadband on a nationwide basis. On top of that, 14 MHz of new unlicensed spectrum – the test bed for wireless innovation – will be available for consumer devices and new services. The auction will provide $10.05 billion to broadcast television licensees who participated and billions towards deficit reduction.
“There is still a long road ahead to successfully implement the post-auction transition of broadcast stations to their new channels and bring the new wireless and unlicensed spectrum to market. This will be an extremely important task for my successor and the new commission; I wish them well,” Wheeler said.