The FCC’s to-do-list in January looks very spectrum-heavy. First and foremost, under chairman Tom Wheeler’s new broadcast incentive auction timeline (the auction was moved from year-end 2014 to mid-2015) is a proposed Report and Order that will come in early January, providing specific policy recommendations. A vote will come in the spring, followed by a Public Notice in the second half outlining the specific auction rules.
Then there’s the H Block spectrum auction on Jan. 22. It’s the first of three auctions the agency plans to conduct to free up more spectrum for mobile broadband. DISH was among the list of bidders. The FCC’s recent approval of the company’s petition to waive some technical rules on its use of spectrum cleared the way for Charlie Ergen & Co to bid on the H Block. DISH had made its H Block bid offer contingent on the approval. No other national players applied to participate so DISH might come home with a big chunk of the airwaves. The H Block, a 10 MHz block of paired spectrum, is part of 65 MHz of spectrum Congress mandated the FCC to auction by February 2015. The FCC expects at least $1.56 billion from the auction. In an earlier Public Notice, the agency said “we believe this amount will appropriately recover for the public a portion of the value of the spectrum, especially in light of the Spectrum Act’s requirement to deposit proceeds from this auction into the Public Safety Trust Fund to be used for a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network…”