A good few of you reading this are probably excited for the upcoming 600MHz FCC spectrum auction, set to start on March 29. The auction, among other things in other industries, will be distributing valuable low-band spectrum to participating wireless carriers, which will allow easier and cheaper network build-out in rural areas, along with better building penetration. It wouldn’t exactly be an exaggeration to say that the carrier who can grab the most strategically useful spectrum licenses for their network and utilize it to build out for the best coverage would be in a position to nab the top spot among U.S. wireless carriers. There is still some controversy as to who all will participate, but with T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T already making fierce jabs at one another over the upcoming auction, it’s easy to see that this is a big deal.
Of course, wireless carriers won’t be the only ones affected. That spectrum has to come from somewhere and not all of it is unused. Though previously either unregulated or given out for unfairly low prices, once the high value of this spectrum was determined, the FCC decided to redistribute it fairly through auction. A decent portion of it will be coming from radio and television broadcasters, who will be bidding to get the best prices they can for their portfolios. As a result of taking a fresh look at the data concerning interference and how difficult a time network providers will have rebuilding once their spectrum is lost, the FCC has changed the starting prices for the reverse auction just a bit, as well as updating the filing deadlines for those looking to bid or sell off spectrum. The FCC stated it wants to give participants 60 days to check out the new prices and change their strategies accordingly.
Networks needing extra time to figure out how they’ll handle committing to the auction have been given a new cutoff date of January 12, while carriers looking to bid have been given until February 9. Most of the prices changed by 1 percent, with New York’s local Telemundo network keeping the number one spot at an opening bid of $900 million. The chances this will cause major shakeups with participation and pricing is low, but those who were on the fence, such as Sprint, may be more likely to sit it out or aim a bit lower. As the leadup to the historic auction set to revolutionize the wireless industry heats up, those in the know can only watch breathlessly and cheer on their favorite networks or whoever they think will rock the boat enough to cause industrywide positive changes.