The FCC was today supposed to be considering the adoption of a public notice that would specify the detailed procedures to be used in the incentive auction (see our articles here and here). In the incentive auction, the FCC will buy the spectrum used by a number of TV stations, repack the remaining TV stations into a more compact TV band, and then resell the vacated spectrum to wireless companies for wireless broadband and other wireless uses. However, yesterday, it was announced that the consideration of these matters would be delayed until the FCC’s August 6 meeting.
The details of the auction are incredibly complicated. In recent weeks, a number of proposals have been raised about the use of the “duplex gap” between the wireless frequencies to be used for the upload and the download of wireless communications, specifically including debates about whether TV stations that do not sell out in the auction, and don’t fit into the repacked TV band in congested markets, could end up in this band. If TV stations end up in the duplex gap, it would displace unlicensed spectrum users that were initially to use the spectrum and it could potentially create consumer reception issues for any stations that end up in this spectrum removed from the adjacent TV stations, where the spectrum would be used for TV in only a limited number of markets.
This issue and others have proven controversial (see, for instance, the comments on the extension released by FCC Commissioner Pai yesterday). With this extension, the discussions of all parties interested in this proceeding will continue over the next few weeks before the FCC makes their decisions at the August 6 meeting. Watch as these debates evolve in the coming days.