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FCC Issues 700 MHZ Band Auction Procedures

The 16 licenses to be auctioned were offered in an earlier auction (designated as Auction 73), and were either not sold, or sold and the winning bidder defaulted.

The U.S. government has issued the procedures and minimum opening bids for the upcoming auction (designated Auction 92) of 16 698-806 MHz band (700 MHz band) licenses that had been used for analog television.

On April 15, 2011 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) posted a Federal Register notice—Auction of 700 MHz Band Licenses Scheduled for July 19, 2011; Notice of Filing Requirements, Minimum Opening Bids, Upfront Payments, and Other Procedures for Auction 92—announcing the procedures and minimum opening bids for the upcoming auction.

The 16 licenses to be auctioned were offered in an earlier auction (designated as Auction 73), and were either not sold, or sold and the winning bidder defaulted, the FCC says. In addition, on Dec. 15, 2010, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) issued a public notice seeking comment on competitive bidding procedures to be used in Auction 92. A summary of that public notice was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 7, 2011.

The latest notice says, prospective applicants “must familiarize themselves thoroughly” with the FCC’s general competitive bidding rules, rules relating to the 700 MHz band and emerging technologies, as well as rules relating to applications, environmental requirements, practice and procedure. Also, “prospective applicants must also be thoroughly familiar with the procedures, terms and conditions contained in the Auctions 92 Procedures Public Notice” and in the FCC’s proceedings regarding competitive bidding procedures, application requirements, and obligations of commission licensees, the notice says.

The terms contained in the FCC’s rules, relevant orders and public notices are not negotiable, the notice says. However, the FCC might amend or supplement information contained in public notices at any time, and will issue public notices to convey any new or supplemental information, the agency says. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all applications to remain current with the commission’s rules and with all public notices pertaining to Auction 92, the commission says.

The notice lists scores of areas that detail auction regulations as well as “prospective applicants” compliance requirements. Some of those areas are:

Prohibition on certain communications: A prohibition on certain communications between applicants that submit short-form applications seeking to participate in a FCC auction for licenses in the same or overlapping markets. However, such applicants can communicate if they have identified each other on their short-form applications as parties with whom they have entered into agreements, applicants for any of the same or overlapping markets must affirmatively avoid all communications with or disclosures to each other that affect or have the potential to affect bids or bidding strategy.

Information embargo: Information concerning Auction 92 applicants’ license selections will not be available to the public. Therefore, the FCC will inform each applicant of the identity of each of the other applicants that have applied for licenses covering any of the same geographic areas as the licenses that it has selected in its short-form application.

Up to date information required: The FCC requires applicants to maintain accurate and complete information in their auction applications, and to notify the commission of any substantial change that may be of decisional significance to that application.

There are many more such sections providing details on Auction 92’s procedures, and for more information on the auction’s service rules and licensing issues, contact Michael Connelly (legal) or Keith Harper (technical) of the WTB’s Auctions and Spectrum Access Division at (202) 418-0620. To request materials in accessible formats (Braille, large print, electronic files or audio format) for people with disabilities, send an e-mail to or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 or (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

— J.J. Smith