“This is not an auction. It is a joke and an abuse of the broadcasters, the FCC and the public,” said Preston Padden, a television consultant and former head of the now-dissolved Expanding Opportunities For Broadcasters Coalition.
Padden was commenting on the third round of the Federal Communication Commission’s auctioning off of the 600MHz band. From a reverse auction process that queried broadcasters who currently hold the spectrum, the commission set a cumulative forward bidding target of $40.3 billion. Forward bidders, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, only committed $19.7 billion, a decline from the second round total of $21.5 billion.
The entire auction scheme had started out with high hopes for broadcasters who were hoping to gain, perhaps, nearly $50 billion from buyers. But networks have not been willing to budge much past the $20 billion mark to pick off spectrum that, as Padden points out, the wireless industry lobbied to the US Congress for.
The 126MHz of total TV spectrum that was on the table at the beginning of the auction process will soon drop to 84MHz. The required spectrum repackaging process will whittle that down to even less for cellular service providers to utilize.
The CTIA did not issue a statement regarding the auction nor to Padden’s comments. The fourth round of reverse bidding is expected to start next week.