The Broadcast Incentive Auction status

   The latest FCC spectrum auction, the Broadcast Incentive Auction, being conducted right now comprises of two parts: one which includes determining how much broadcasters are willing to sell their spectrum currently used for TV (the “Reverse Auction”) and another part to determine how much wireless carriers and other bidders are willing to pay for that spectrum for wireless use (the “Forward Auction”). The auction continues with the reduction of spectrum available in stages until the price set by broadcasters effectively meets the price companions are willing to pay for the spectrum. The proceeds of the last stage (Stage 4) of the auction have now exceeded the cost of the spectrum the broadcasters are asking. The last stage will be followed by an assignment phase after which the auction will be over. 

The auction as of stage 4 in the numbers:
  • Gross proceeds: $19,632,506,746
  • Unsold spectrum: $648,916,000 (valued at the current prices. It will be auctioned again later)
  • Cost of unreserved spectrum: $0.93 / MHz×POP
  • Cost of reserved spectrum: $0.921 / MHz×POP
  • Cost of unreserved nationwide 5+5 MHz block: $2,909,837,934
  • Cost of reserved nationwide 5+5 MHz block: $2,880,689,670
   The first round of forward auction assignment phase bidding will begin on Monday, March 6th, and all assignment rounds are scheduled to conclude by Thursday, March 30th.

   The maps below show final stage 4 demand and population weighted spectrum cost. Click on the images to see the interactive maps. The areas where not all spectrum blocks have been sold are colored blue. On the map of demand changes gray color marks areas that didn't change category (stayed over/under supply) while red and blue colors are used for areas that changed category towards increasing or decreasing demand correspondingly.


Demand changes
Demand changes
Alternative colors

Band plan

The band consists of 35 MHz of contiguous uplink spectrum between 663-698 MHz adjacent to the lower 700 MHz uplink and corresponding 35 MHz of downlink spectrum between 617-652 MH. The band is broken down into seven 5+5 MHz blocks A through G. TV stations will remain on channels 36 and below. Channel 37 will continue to be used for radio astronomy and wireless medical devices. 3GPP will soon start working on the band specifications. In addition, the remaining 14 MHz of unlicensed spectrum will be available for innovative uses.

Compatible devices

T-Mobile initiated the work on the 600 MHz band specification. The new band is proposed to be assigned the next available FDD band number: 71. T-Mobile estimates the specification will be ready for approval in September 2017.

On March 23rd, 2017 Nokia announced completion of the first pre-standard testing of 600MHz on commercially-available hardware, creating a test bed for terminal ecosystem development and availability. Nokia is one of two primary network equipment vendors for T-Mobile.

Relocation of TV stations

Before the carriers can use the spectrum the TV stations currently broadcasting in the band need to be relocated to lower channels. Read an interview with the Auction Task Force Vice Chair Howard Symons for details. Key quotes and points:
  • "At this point, we see no reason that 39 months won’t work."
  • "We can develop the model and then when the auction is over we will be ready to feed the data into the model and come up with a schedule."
  • Several of the stakeholders have advocated phasing in the repack on a region-by-region basis, and that's the direction the FCC work is heading. However, Symons adds, the FCC is taking a "more granular" approach than anything the stakeholders have proposed. "So it’s not like let’s start in New England and then go to New York and then go to Delaware.  We may wind up doing two regions at once.  We may wind up going from the South up rather than the North down."
Not all spectrum in 617 - 698 MHz range is currently being used by protected TV stations.

The first map below shows all protected UHF TV stations on channels 38-51 as of February, 2017. Many of the stations shown on the map already agreed to return their licenses or share a channel with another station. When the auction concludes and the FCC publishes the results the map will be updated. All stations shown on this map will be relocated to lower channels by June 2020. The relocation schedule will be published after the conclusion of the auction.

Disclaimer: USE OF THESE MAPS IS AT THE USER'S SOLE RISK. Spectrum Gateway is no responsible for errors or omissions, or any consequences thereof. 

UHF TV stations on channels 38-51

Two maps below show availability of 600 MHz G and A blocks. Dark areas are protected TV stations preventing deployment of cellular service in the corresponding block right away. The possibility of deployment is estimated using a simple conservative method: the separation between TV and cellular signal must be at least 6 MHz. It is very likely a precise estimate according to OET Bulletin 74 will provide maps with more areas available for deployment.

A block
G block

Special thanks to Trip Ericson of RabbitEars.Info