Stage two of incentive auction set for Sept. 13

A second round of bidding in the reverse auction will kick off Sept. 13, the FCC said, to start stage two of the incentive auction of 600 MHz airwaves.

The Commission will lower the clearing target of TV broadcasters’ spectrum to 114 MHz, down from the maximum 126 MHz it initially established in April. The reverse auction will pick up where it left off, with broadcasters establishing prices for their spectrum, and then the FCC will again accept bids from companies looking to put those airwaves to use for wireless services in a second forward auction.

The first stage was ended earlier this week after bidders offered up only $23 billion for the spectrum through 27 rounds. That figure was far short of the $88.4 billion needed to end the event after a single round, prompting TV broadcasters to question the “modest participation” of wireless service providers that have claimed additional spectrum is crucial to serve ever-increasing consumption of mobile data.

The timing of the second round is mixed news for smaller mobile service providers concerned about their ability to participate during two industry conferences in September. The Rural Wireless Association and the Rural Broadband Association had filed an informal request urging the Commission to shelve bidding action for six days in September during CTIA’s Super Mobility show next week and another conference for rural service providers from Sept. 26-28. The FCC denied the request.

Many uncertainties remain after the first stage of the auction, and analysts say the sluggish initial stage doesn’t necessarily mean there’s little demand for the spectrum. Indeed, the sudden slowdown in bidding activity may be an indication that participants slowed their pursuit of the airwaves knowing that a second round – and maybe a third and fourth – would be inevitable. And while the FCC doesn’t disclose which company makes which bids, it’s certainly possible that future rounds might see increased participation from a player like Dish Network or Comcast looking to jump into the wireless industry.

For more:

- read this FCC notice (PDF)

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