The FCC today announced plans to delay the 600 MHz incentive auctions until 2016.
The primary reason for the delay is being attributed to a lawsuit regarding auction rules brought about by broadcasters. The final briefs in that proceeding are not due until late January 2015 and a decision likely won’t be reached until mid-2015, according to a blog post by FCC Incentive Task Force Chair Gary Epstein.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Sinclair Broadcast Group are petitioning for a review of an FCC order establishing auction rules. Their lawsuit claims the FCC’s order doesn’t do enough to protect broadcasters who opt out of the forward auctions and don’t give up their spectrum.
“We are confident we will prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016,” Epstein wrote.
This marks the second time under FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s tenure that the planned incentive auctions are being delayed. Wheeler last year pushed back the auctions to mid-2015 from their anticipated 2014 start date. The reason at the time was to provide more time for policy decisions, developing auction procedures and testing the auction software.
CCA President and CEO Steven K. Berry called the delay “reasonable” and restated that every carrier remains interested in acquiring low-band spectrum.
“The FCC’s decision to delay the time frame for the incentive auction is not particularly surprising, and one could say a delay was actually expected. The incentive auction is still on track, even with the slight delay. There is an old saying that, ‘If you want it bad, you will get it bad.’ I know our members want it right, and the FCC is just trying to ‘get it right,’” Berry said in a statement.
CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann reinforced the need to free up more mobile broadband spectrum to keep pace with consumer demands.
“While any delay in spectrum auctions is unfortunate, we appreciate the thoughtful focus the FCC has brought to this complex auction to ensure it is conducted properly to the benefit of all Americans. Today’s action underscores the need to resolve the pending litigation over the FCC’s rules expeditiously,” Bergmann said in a statement.
Filed Under: Industry regulations