The next phase in the FCC’s low band spectrum auction is set to kick off at the start of next month, the Commission announced Tuesday.
According to a notice from the Commission, the Assignment Phase, in which winning bidders will bid on particular spectrum blocks in their markets, will commence on Monday, March 6. All assignment rounds are scheduled to wrap up by the close of the month, on Thursday, March 30, the FCC indicated.
The start date conveniently follows what will be the close of the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, but eligible participants will be able to log in to the assignment phase bidding system on Feb. 21 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to download their assignment bidding options. A practice auction will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 22 and a mock auction will follow on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
In the assignment phase, the FCC said some partial economic areas (PEAs) will be grouped together for bidding of the same bidders won the same number of blocks in each of the PEAs in the group, and if all of the PEAs in the group are either high-demand PEAs or in the same Regional Economic Area Grouping (REAG) and either subject or not to the small market bidding credit cap.
Based on the number of PEAs that can be groups together for bidding, the FCC said it has already determined there will be 74 assignment rounds in the assignment phase. The Commission is expecting to conduct four assignment rounds per day, which, judging from the practice rounds, will be an hour each, starting at 10 a.m. and concluding at 5 p.m.
The FCC noted that regardless of where participants bid in the assignment phase, it will be possible to assign every winning bidder contiguous blocks of frequency-specific licenses due to the band plan associated with the 84 MHz clearing target used in the final stage.
Further educational materials for assignment phase participants can be found here, the FCC said.
The assignment phase is nearly the last step in a spectrum auction that has been ongoing since March 2016. The auction phase closed at the end of last week with proceeds of $19.63 billion.
After the close of the assignment phase, the Commission will issue a Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice formally wrapping up the proceedings, and providing information on the results of the reverse and forward auctions, including winning stations and bidders, the prices paid, and frequencies won. The notice will also provide a date by which each station must transition off its pre-auction channel.
The release of the closing notice will also mark the start of the 39-month transition period, during which time broadcasters will clear the auctioned spectrum so winners can move in.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)