FCC Issues Procedures for $10B AWS-3 Auction

Will help relieve pressure on broadcast incentive auction
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The FCC has officially set an aggregate reserve price of $10.587 billion for the AWS-3 auction, scheduled for later this year.

That came in an FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau public notice Wednesday establishing those reserve prices, opening bid amounts and other proceudres for the auction of spectrum in the AWS-3 band. The notice was a followup to one issued in May.

Of that total, the 1695-1710 MHz license reserve will be approximately $580 million, and the paired 1755-1780 MHz/2155-2180 MHz licenses are approximately $10.07 billion.

A mock auction will be held Nov. 10 to test the online/telephone bidding process, with the real thing scheduled to begin Nov. 13.

The FCC has to pay auction expenses out of that total, and moving and relocation costs for the government agencies who are giving up or sharing spectrum.

In its AWS-3 transition plan released earlier this month, NTIA estimates total relocation and sharing costs for the 1695-1710 MHz band at $527.1 million and for the 1755-1780 MHz band at $4.576 billion. The spectrum at 2155-2180 MHz is in FCC hands and ready for auction.

If the auction is successful, it should pay for most or all of the $7 billion interoperable broadband first responder network the auctions are meant, in part, to fund, which will relieve pressure on the ensuing broadcast incentive auction.

The AWS-3 auction is the second of three auctions to raise money for that network and other purposes, as well as to free up spectrum for wireless broadband.

The first was the H Block auction earlier this year, followed by AWS-3, then the broadcast incentive auction scheduled for mid-year 2015 and expected to raise north of $20 billion.

The H block auction raised over $1.5 billion that is going toward the broadband network.

"[T]he FCC has set the stage for this important and long-awaited auction," said Joan Marsh, AT&T VP of Federal Regulatory.  "We appreciate the hard work that has been necessary to bring this auction forward, including by the staff of the FCC and the NTIA, and by the DoD's Chief Information Officer, and we are confident that those efforts will yield a successful outcome. We look forward to reviewing the public notices in detail, as well as the DoD workbook that will hopefully be released later this month that will provide key technical information about DoD operations that are essential to assessing auction valuations.”

“Today, the FCC has achieved another important milestone in bringing the AWS-3 spectrum to auction," said Kathy Grillo, Verizon senior VP, federal regulatory affairs. "The procedures adopted today will provide certainty to potential bidders and facilitate broad participation in the auction. This will allow the industry to put this spectrum to use as quickly as possible to meet American consumers’ ever-growing demand for mobile broadband services, and it will help ensure that the auction maximizes the revenues to the U.S. government.”

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