In a plea for more funding on Tuesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee the spectrum incentive auction has the potential to run past the agency’s hoped-for third fiscal quarter finish line and bleed into fiscal year 2017.
Under the auction’s structure, Wheeler said there is no guarantee that the bids from wireless carriers will meet the clearing target set by broadcasters in one shot. The result, he said, would be multiple rounds of bidding until that threshold is met.
Wheeler said the FCC is asking for an additional $11 million to cover expenses related to the auction.
Wheeler also told the committee the repacking of broadcasters after the auction is over will be a challenging and complex process.
Though Wheeler said he believes the FCC’s 39-month repacking timetable is reasonable, he said the transition won’t be doable without proper funding.
“I guarantee you it will not be sufficient if sufficient funds are not available,” Wheeler said. “So we need to make sure that just because the auction may seem to be over, the responsibilities of that auction are far from over and we have four new auctions that we have to complete in 2017, four additional auctions.”
In fiscal year 2017, Wheeler said the commission will be conducting auctions for FM, FM translators, a half a million 3.5 GHz licenses and the re-auction of AWS-3 spectrum.
In total, the FCC is seeking $358 million for fiscal year 2017.
Filed Under: Industry regulations