600MHz reverse auction said to be nearing end
Analysts are seeing the end near the first phase of the auctions process in the FCC’s scheme to free up 600MHz spectrum from TV broadcasters for cellular networks’ use.
The first auction, expected to end this week, works in reverse, asking broadcasters the minimum offer that they would accept from wireless service providers in order to relinquish their spectrum. The commission will disclose the cumulative target amount that bidders will have to meet in order to end the auction process.
Analysts estimates for that cumulative target have been varied wildly for up to a 126MHz range of spectrum through all of the participating markets. There has been a consensus in what firms expect bidders to end up paying in the forward auction and that’s a total of about $30 billion.
If the cumulative target isn’t met, the auction process goes back to square one: determining how much spectrum can be freed up from broadcasters who may have to either manage their expectations on returns or simply drop out of the scheme.
The failure of bidders to meet the cumulative target may mean that the auctions process could be prolonged by months, perhaps even years.
Prospective bidders will have to pony up an upfront payment by Friday to enter the forward auction. Once the reverse auction is finished and the FCC publishes its public notice, the date will be set for commencement of the forward auction. That date should be about three calendar weeks from after the notice.