FCC releases final results of spectrum auction [telecom]

Over the past several months the FCC has been engaged in a two-sided auction process to incentivize enough broadcasters to give up their assigned spectrum to allow roughly 84 MHz of spectrum to be sold to wireless carriers. Today they announced the results, which will send about $10 billion to broadcast TV licensees and $7 billion in profits to the federal government. The spectrum auction incorporated a brand-new, never-before-used auction mechanism, the design of which involved theoretical computer science and economics researchers.

The licensee that will get the most, by far, for turning in its TV channels is Comcast, which gets $217 million for WNBC in New York. Comcast also gets $141.7 million for WSNS-TV in Chicago and $126 million for WWSI in the Philadelphia market. In all three markets, Comcast owns other stations that will be keeping their licenses, so this is in essence "free money" for Comcast.

Other big winners include Trinity Broadcasting Network, which received the highest single-station payout, $304 million, for its station in Chicago (plus hundreds of millions total for many of its other stations), and public broadcaster WGBH in Boston, which will get $162 million to change from UHF channel 19 to VHF channel 5 plus another $57 million to move its Springfield, Mass., station from UHF to VHF.

The New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority will receive $194 million for its WNJN (Montclair, in the New York City market) and another $138 million for WNJT (Trenton, in the Philadelphia market). A number of other public broadcasters will also receive big cash payouts, including stations in Providence, Scranton, Tri-Cities (Tennessee), San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, New Haven, and Greenville (S.C.); in many cases, the licensees will end up spending a large part of that cash to share spectrum with a commercial broadcaster in their market.

The "repacking" process, wherein the remaining TV stations construct new transmitter facilities in order to clear the 600-MHz band for the wireless carriers, is supposed to be complete nationwide by the end of

2020. The FCC has set an aggressive timetable for stations to apply for permits, install or modify equipment, and switch to their new channels, which will require careful coordination in most of the country's largest markets. As a part of the optimization process run by the FCC, all of the stations in each market were assigned to not more than two phases -- here in Boston, most stations are in phase 4 (which includes a tangled group of dozens of stations from Boston to Youngstown that must all transition at the same time) and the rest are in phase 8. This means that in most markets, over-the-air TV viewers can expect to have to rescan their tuners twice at most.

More details than you probably want at the FCC's Web site:

formatting link


Reply to
Garrett Wollman
Loading thread data ...

Cabling-Design.com Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.