FCC Plans Dec. 5 Start for Forward Auction

Tells broadcasters to be ready to start bidding

The FCC says it expects to start stage three of the forward auction on Dec. 5. That is not official, but in announcing that stage three of the reverse auction will end Dec. 1—barring computer issues or other outside factors—the FCC said it anticipated starting the forward auction Dec 5, adding: "Forward auction bidders should be prepared for bidding to begin that day."

The reverse auction is where TV stations set the price at which they will give up spectrum—with the FCC lowering the price in each round, while the forward is where bidders compete for the rights to that spectrum, presumably for wireless broadband.

So far forward auction bidders have not come close to meeting the broadcasters' asking price, and the FCC has had to reduce the amount of spectrum twice as the auction seeks the intersection of supply and demand—at the right price—that will allow the FCC to close the auction. That is when both the forward auction bids cover the asking price and at a baseline price for the top markets so the rights to the public spectrum are not sold too cheaply.

The last forward auction only lasted a single round as bidders simply immediately reduced their demand rather than up their price.

The FCC purposely started with high spectrum values to draw broadcasters into the auction.