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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.

NERA Senior Vice President Richard Marsden and Analyst Jonathan Pike have published two papers that provide summaries of the US Forward and Reverse Auctions, respectively. The papers highlight key design innovations, including the use of novel “ascending clock” and “descending clock” auction formats, and explore the approaches the FCC might adopt for rules not yet specified.

Click on the following links to access the papers:

US 600MHz Incentive Auction, Reverse Auction Rules

US 600MHz Incentive Auction, Forward Auction Rules