Updated: US 600MHz Incentive Auction Forward and Reverse Auction Rules

Wed Oct 29 12:38:48 EDT 2014
By Richard Marsden and Jonathan Pike

The US "Incentive Auction" of 600MHz (UHF) bandwidth is the most ambitious spectrum auction ever proposed. Up to 144 MHz of "beachfront" radio frequencies could be repurposed from terrestrial broadcasting to mobile broadband. While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is still in the process of soliciting public input on the auction design, what is known is that the process will combine two separate but linked auctions:

1.    A Reverse Auction, which will identify a set of prices at which broadcasters are prepared to relinquish channels or move frequency band; and
2.    A Forward Auction, which will determine how much cellular operators are willing to pay to acquire the frequencies.

Detailed auction rules will not be released until early 2015, but broadcasters, cellular operators, and other interested parties are already considering how the rules may affect their participation in the process.

In an update to two earlier papers published in July 2014 on this subject, NERA Senior Vice President Richard Marsden and Analyst Jonathan Pike have published a revised, consolidated paper that contains new analysis and commentary on auction design innovations and possible approaches the FCC might adopt for rules not yet specified.