As the FCC’s window for the submission of “reverse” incentive auction applications closed on Tuesday, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) executive vice president Dennis Wharton voiced expectations of “robust broadcaster participation” that he hopes will lead to “similarly robust participation from wireless bidders in the forward auction.”

While the FCC is precluded by statute from revealing the identity of participating broadcast stations until the conclusion of the incentive auction process, a handful of broadcasters (including Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc.) have issued statements that confirm the filing of reverse auction applications and their intention to surrender their spectrum, in whole or in part, for sale to the wireless industry. An FCC official also told reporters that the agency has no plan to announce the number of reverse auction participants because Tuesday’s filing deadline does not oblige broadcasters to participate in the auction. (Broadcasters that filed applications on Tuesday have until March 29—the scheduled start date of the initial reverse auction round—to commit to the auction.) Nevertheless, during last week’s Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Show in Las Vegas, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler remarked to CEA CEO Gary Shapiro that “this is going to be a really exciting auction,” as he cited “the interest that we have seen from broadcasters to participate—and I mean the name brand folks, the big networks, the big groups as well as . . . small broadcasters.”

Wireless entities, meanwhile, are required to submit their forward auction applications to the FCC during a filing window that opens on January 26 and closes on February 9. The FCC will announce the start of the forward auction clock phase when it releases its list of qualified forward auction bidders. Acknowledging that, “the FCC’s staff has done a remarkable amount of work to get us to this point,” Wharton said, “we look forward to the close of a successful auction.”