The incentive auction to repurpose part of the TV band for wireless broadband marches on, and activity takes place on an almost daily basis. Last week, in providing the February Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters, we mentioned the dates for comments on the auction procedures, asking questions about the mechanics of the auction and how the pricing for stations to be paid for the surrender of their spectrum will be established. This week, the Commission extended the comment deadline to February 20, and the reply comment date until March 13. This is the second one-week extension of the comment deadline announced by the FCC – this one to give commenters more time to analyze the recent AWS auction, where wireless companies spent over $40 billion for spectrum, and any insights that auction might provide for the upcoming auction of parts of the TV spectrum to wireless users.
In addition, the Commission on Friday announced a May 29, 2015 deadline for the licensing of full power and Class A TV stations facilities in order for these facilities to be protected in the upcoming auction. This is an issue only for a few full-power TV stations that were authorized facilities before the current TV Freeze or in the very limited circumstances where stations received a waiver of that freeze (mostly stations moving off of Channel 51 to protect wireless users). For Class A stations, it is a bigger issue, as protection will only be afforded to those stations that are licensed in digital by the May 29 deadline. Class A stations have until September to transition to digital (and may well have longer should the FCC adopt its proposal to extend the digital conversion deadline, a proposal about which we wrote here). But, according to the Public Notice, only those already operating in digital will be protected.
The incentive auction marches on, so watch carefully as issues develop.