The FCC signaled it plans to auction new spectrum blocks, the 1695-1710 MHz band and the 1755-1780 MHz band, as early as 2014, giving the CTIA and wireless carriers another victory in their quest to free up more radio waves for mobile broadband.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote about the planned auction in a letter to Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. By law the FCC needs to notify the NTIA at least 18 months prior to the start of any auction.
The NTIA had already identified the 1695-1710 MHz band for reallocation from federal to commercial use. According to the law that set in motion incentive auctions for TV broadcast spectrum, the FCC is required to license those airwaves for commercial use by February 2015.
Additionally, the FCC needs to allocate and license for commercial use by 2015 the 2155-2180 MHz band, which the CTIA has urged be paired with the 1755-1780 MHz band, which the NTIA has considered sharing with commercial users. The FCC included the 1755-1780 MHz band in its notice to the NTIA so it would have the ability to auction it at a later date. T-Mobile USA has been pushing to get ahold of those frequencies for commercial use. The CTIA praised Genachowski's letter.
That auction is one of several the FCC has in motion. The commission plans to auction the 1900 MHZ PCS H Block this year. The H Block is paired spectrum from 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz, and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) will likely be among the bidders.
The other major auction on the docket is the incentive auctions for TV broadcast spectrum in the 600 MHz band, scheduled to start in 2014. The 120 MHz the FCC expects to get from the incentive auctions is a major piece of the 300 MHz the agency hopes to free for mobile broadband by 2015. However, there is no guarantee that the FCC will get that much from broadcasters.
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