The 600 MHz auction target announced Friday by the FCC is a satisfactory 126 MHz of spectrum, essentially meeting the target amount of spectrum the commission hoped would be made available for auction when it began planning the auction several years ago.
Spectrum in the 600 MHz band is currently used by TV broadcasters, who have the option of voluntarily relinquishing spectrum in exchange for sharing in the auction proceeds with the U.S. government. Friday’s news comes after the completion of the first stage of the auction, in which broadcasters bid for the amount of money they would accept for relinquishing spectrum. Beginning later this month, wireless network operators will have the option of bidding on licenses for the spectrum relinquished by the broadcasters.
600 MHz Auction Target
The 600 MHz auction target spectrum level initially anticipated was 120 MHz. The willingness of broadcasters to participate in the auction suggests that many of them view the auction as a good way of maximizing their assets at a time when the majority of viewers have switched to pay TV options and when viewers also are shifting toward over-the-top video options delivered via the Internet.
The FCC’s news about the 600 MHz auction target came in the form of a six-page public notice, which also included a target band plan.
According to that band plan, the amount of spectrum to be auctioned will be 100 MHz, with the remainder used for guard bands. The 100 MHz available for auction will be divided into 10 blocks, with each block consisting of paired spectrum totaling 10 MHz.
According to previous FCC actions, some spectrum licenses will be for comparatively large geographic areas, while others will be for smaller areas.
As Friday’s public notice explains, the vast majority of spectrum to be auctioned will be unimpaired. Ninety-seven percent of the 600 MHz spectrum blocks (totaling 4,030) are described as “Category 1” blocks, meaning that impairment will be no more than 15% — and of those 99% are zero percent impaired, the FCC said. An additional 3% of total blocks (totaling 18) fall into Category 2, meaning they are greater than 15% and up to 50% impaired.
Previous FCC actions call for certain spectrum, including spectrum in the guard bands, to be available for unlicensed use.