FCC Incentive Auction Post Mortem

Today, the FCC’s Incentive Auction reached its “Final Stage”.  This means that, for the first time, the prices at which participating broadcast stations were frozen are real.  I am happy for the winning broadcasters.  I am disappointed for the participating broadcasters who did not win.  And I am deeply grateful to the dedicated FCC staff who worked tirelessly for four years to turn a bare statute into an auction.

When this process began the carriers proclaimed their urgent need for 600 MHz spectrum.  But, there was great concern whether broadcasters could be brought to the auction.  In part through the work of the EOBC, the broadcasters showed up.  But, interest among the carriers declined.  In the end, the carriers left 42 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum on the table – spectrum broadcasters were willing to sell.

A full post mortem will take time.  But it appears that delay, complexity and shifting carrier priorities led to a result that was less than it could have been.