Spectrum Forward Auction Starts Aug. 16

FCC releases final list of eligible bidders with Comcast, AT&T, Verizon among them

The forward portion of the FCC's spectrum auction will begin Aug.16, the FCC said Friday (July 15).

It also released the final list of bidders for that portion of the auction. Of the 99 who were initially qualified, 62 made upfront payments and are now eligible to bid. Those included  AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Dish and T-Mobile.

Notable among those not making those payments--in the hundreds of millions and billions of dollars--was Sinclair.

In the forward auction, wireless companies and others will bid for reclaimed broadcast spectrum and the FCC will need to get a little over $88 billion for the 100 MHz of spectrum (26 of the 126 MHz clearing target is for guard bands) for broadcasters to whom it has pledged $86.4 billion (the other $1.957 billion or so is for auction expenses and post-auction TV station repacking costs).

The reverse portion of the auction, where broadcasters bid to give up spectrum--low bid wins--ended June 29, but could pick up where it left off if the forward auction falls short of that $88 billion and the FCC has to lower its clearing target to 114 MHz. The FCC has always factored the possibility of multiple rounds into the auction framework, given that it was the marketplace deciding the value of the spectrum.

Related: Spectrum Auction Likely to See Multiple Rounds

The FCC announced a final auction administrative cost figure of $207 million, a savings of $19 million over its initial estimate of $226 million.

The FCC had said it would not start the forward auction until at least 15 business days after it released the final eligible bidders public notice, so it will be a little longer than that.

The FCC was expected Friday to start sending out electronic keys (RSA tokens) to those eligible bidders. It will hold a practice auction starting July 25 and running four to five days. A mock auction will be held Aug. 11-12.

Related: FCC Releases Forward Auction Guide