The 600MHz auction is headed back to a reverse auction phase after the forward auction for TV broadcasters’ spectrum attracted weak bidding activity and, thus, could not amount to more than the $56.5 billion goal that the Federal Communications Commission set.
The goal was determined by a reverse auction stage where broadcast licensees cleared through how much money they were willing to accept for their position on the dial. An initial round of reverse bidding made some 110MHz of spectrum available while setting a target of $86.4 billion before a further bidding round reduced both numbers.
The current forward auction stage, where prospective ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon put in bids to buy up to 90MHz of spectrum, ended with entries totaling $21 billion and, importantly, not enough spectrum demand in the top consumer markets to exceed supply — a critical marker for the auction process.
The FCC will try and make 80MHz of 600MHz band spectrum available for bidders in the next reverse auction, scheduled to kick off with a public announcement this week. The process could push the end of the auctions process to sometime next year and for spectrum recycling to sometime in 2021 or 2022.