auctionTwenty-eight companies with rural wireless bidding credits are on the FCC’s list of approved bidders for the upcoming auction of TV broadcast spectrum in the 600 MHz band. As expected, three of the four major national wireless carriers – AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon but not Sprint – are on the approved bidder list. U.S. Cellular, one of the last remaining regional wireless carriers, also is on the approved list.

In the first phase of the two-phase broadcast spectrum auction, broadcasters indicated their interest in relinquishing spectrum in exchange for sharing in the profits with the federal government. The government expects to have a total of 100 MHz of spectrum available for auction. Licenses will be for paired 10 MHz blocks, with some blocks being divided into large geographic areas and others divided into smaller areas.

In Phase 2, which is expected to get underway next month, wireless carriers will bid to obtain licenses for that spectrum. The auction is expected to be completed later this year or early next year, according to an estimate provided by the FCC to the Wall Street Journal.

Rural Wireless Bidding Credits
Carriers receiving rural wireless bidding credits will be able to submit bids that are 15% higher than they will actually have to spend to acquire spectrum. The qualified bidder list released Friday includes several rural carriers that were not on an earlier qualified bidder list.

As Telecompetitor noted previously, several participants in the Verizon LTE in Rural America program are looking to bid in the upcoming auction. Perhaps that is surprising, considering that those carriers have been able to lease spectrum licensed to Verizon for recent LTE deployments. But perhaps some of those carriers have determined that they will need more spectrum than they are likely to be able to use from Verizon. Alternatively, perhaps they are not counting on being able to use Verizon 600 MHz spectrum or are not assuming Verizon will obtain spectrum nationwide as it has in the past.

Spectrum traditionally used for TV broadcasts is well suited for rural wireless deployments because it has excellent propagation characteristics, thereby minimizing the number of towers that carriers must deploy to cover a geographic area.

Entities qualified to bid in the upcoming auction with rural bidding credits include:

  • Agri-Valley Communications
  • Bluegrass Consortium
  • Chariton Valley Telephone Corporation
  • CT Cube, L.P.
  • CWW Consortium
  • E. Ritter Communications Holdings, Inc.
  • East Kentucky Network LLC
  • Farmers Telephone Cooperative
  • Inland Cellular LLC
  • Iowa RSA 2 Limited Partnership
  • Mutual Telephone Company of Sioux Center, Iowa
  • NE Colorado Cellular
  • NEIT Services LLC
  • Northeast Nebraska Telephone Company
  • Panhandle Telecommunication Systems
  • PBP Consortium
  • Pine Belt Cellular
  • Pine Cellular Phones
  • Pioneer-Next-Tech Wireless-Rural Tel Consortium
  • Plateau Telecommunications
  • Polar Communications Mutual Aid Corporation
  • Sagebrush Cellular
  • SAL Spectrum LLC
  • SI Wireless LLC
  • Smith Bagley
  • Triangle Communication Systems
  • Union Telephone Company
  • WCTA Wireless

A full list of qualified bidders, including non-rural entities, can be found here.