AT&T offers spectrum repacking plans for upcoming 600 MHz incentive auction

AT&T (NYSE: T) executives met with FCC officials last week to discuss the repacking process for next year's incentive auction. It's the latest indication the carrier intends to aggressively pursue TV broadcasters' 600 MHz spectrum at auction.

In an FCC filing, AT&T said its SVP of federal regulatory, Joan Marsh, and three other representatives met with members of the commission's Incentive Auction Task Force, Wireless Bureau and Media Bureau last week. "The purpose of the meeting was to explore in more detail what an organized, efficient and expeditions broadcaster repacking process will entail," AT&T said in its filing.

The carrier said it has run simulations that suggest that following the auction the spectrum of roughly 1,200 TV stations will need to be "repacked in the lower 600 MHz band" -- reshuffled, essentially, so as not to interfere with the operations of wireless carriers.

According to AT&T, the data thus far "suggests that the FCC will be able to optimize any repacking solution so up to 30 percent of remaining broadcasters will be able to maintain their current channel assignment." An average of roughly 850 stations will be given a new channel assignment following the auction, then, and will need "to either retune or move to that new assignment."

The carrier said that during the meeting it also noted the need for a speedy and efficient repacking process, and it asked how the repacking schedule will be developed and when forward auction bidders can expect to gain access to their licenses.

AT&T will spend as much as $10 billion on a 2x10 MHz block of spectrum with nationwide capability in the incentive auction, financial analysts at Wells Fargo recently predicted, outpacing its rivals. The analysts predicted T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) will bid as much as $8 billion, and will Verizon (NYSE: VZ) will limit its bids to $5 billion.

Sprint has said it will not participate in the auction.

For more:
- see this FCC filing

Related articles:
Comcast, Charter may participate in 600 MHz auction, while Time Warner Cable plans to stay home
T-Mobile seen as favorite to win spectrum in 600 MHz auction, but smaller carriers likely to jump in as well
With ATSC 3.0, TV broadcasters might try to steal some wireless business after FCC's incentive auction

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