It is time for bidders to start gearing up for the 600 MHz band incentive auction. This could be the last time a large block of valuable low-band spectrum will be up for sale in the foreseeable future. The Federal Communications Commission recently announced the schedule for the Broadcast Incentive Auction 1001. The deadline for broadcasters to file their initial Form 177 applications expressing their intent to participate in the reverse auction is Jan. 12. Each participating broadcaster that has completed an application must commit to whether it wants to sell all of its spectrum, engage in channel sharing or move to a lower channel or from a UHF to a VHF channel.
Having established the schedule and final procedures for the incentive auction, the FCC is now working to maximize the perceived value of this spectrum during the reverse auction in which broadcasters will offer to voluntarily relinquish some or all of their spectrum usage rights. Although the FCC has stated its central objective is to allow market forces to determine the highest price and best use of the 600 MHz spectrum, a final list of opening bid prices for the incentive auction has been released. The top opening bid price in the reverse auction, where broadcasters will sell spectrum to the FCC, has been set at $900 million for a station in the New York City metropolitan area.