FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a draft of the framework for the C-Band auction (auction 107), which is scheduled to be voted at the FCC’s Aug. 6 meeting. The auction is scheduled to begin Dec. 8.
In February, the FCC voted to free up 280 MHz in the lower portion of the band for auction to wireless carriers for terrestrial 5G and proposed an auction framework on which it sought comment. It has considered the comments and finalized the framework.
The C-band is the midband spectrum currently used by satellite operators to deliver network programming to broadcasters and cable operators. The auction is the FCC’s latest move to free up spectrum for 5G. The commission is under pressure to free up more midband, 5G “beachfront,” spectrum given its recent focus on high-band spectrum.
The FCC is providing accelerated payments for satellite operators who have agreed to exit the spectrum early, and will pay earth station operators for their repack, either based on their actual costs or on a lump sum beforehand.
The FCC is auctioning 5,684 flexible-use licenses for spectrum in the 3.7– 3.98 GHz band in the contiguous U.S.
The auction will comprise a clock phase with bidding on generic blocks in each partial economic area (PEA) and an assignment phase for specific frequencies.
The FCC provided some key dates for interested bidders:
The FCC will allow some joint bidding by non-dominant carriers and designated entities, but not among two or more of the dominant carriers, which are AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile.
The FCC will cap bidding credit discounts to an eligible small business at $25 million and $10 million on an eligible rural service provider.
And to “create parity among eligible small businesses and rural service providers competing against each other in smaller markets,” no designated entity bidder will get more than $10 million in bidding credits for licenses won in markets of 500,000 people or less.
Anyone currently in default or delinquent on payments to the FCC is not allowed to bid, but previous defaulters can participate so long as it is “otherwise qualified and makes an upfront payment that is 50% more than would otherwise be necessary.”