The Federal Communications Commission has postponed an auction that would allow television broadcasters to sell a portion of their spectrum to wireless carriers due to ongoing legal issues surrounding the auction.
Earlier this summer, the National Association of Broadcasters petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review some aspects of the auction. They’re concerned about the potential impact that such an auction could have on TV stations.
In a blog post on the matter, Gary Epstein, Chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, said they are confident they will prevail in court but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, they now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 with an auction start to take place in early 2016.
The FCC is hoping to convince television station owners to switch to different frequencies, share frequencies with other stations or going off the air completely in a bid to free up spectrum in the 600MHz band. Wireless providers consider this section of spectrum to be “beach-front property” due to its impressive reach and strength. AT&T has already pledged to spend at least $9 billion on new spectrum.
This is the second time the auction has been pushed back. It was initially expected to get under way this year before being delayed until mid-2015.
Wireless carriers collectively said the delay was unfortunate but they applauded the FCC’s efforts to get it right.