FCC Announces Plans for Early 2014 2 GHz H Block Auction

On Tuesday the FCC announced plans to auction H Block paired spectrum at 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz stating, “The staff will be prepared to conduct this Auction, which will be designated Auction 96, by or as early as Jan. 14, 2014.” The Spectrum Act requires the FCC allocate this spectrum for commercial use and license spectrum in the H Block using a system of competitive bidding no later than Feb. 23, 2015.

The licenses will be auctioned on an “Economic Areas” (EA) basis in all areas, including the Gulf of Mexico. The Public Notice (DA 13-1540) announcing the auction requested comment on auction procedures. These include procedures for packaging EA licenses into larger packages covering regions or even the contiguous 48 states.

The Public Notice includes a “Due Diligence” section outlining risks. It notes: “Each potential bidder is solely responsible for investigating and evaluating all technical and marketplace factors that may have a bearing on the value of the licenses that it is seeking in this auction. Each bidder is responsible for assuring that, if it wins a license, it will be able to build and operate facilities in accordance with the Commission’s rules.

“The Commission makes no representations or warranties about the use of this spectrum for particular services. Each applicant should be aware that a Commission auction represents an opportunity to become a Commission licensee, subject to certain conditions and regulations. A Commission auction does not constitute an endorsement by the Commission of any particular service, technology, or product, nor does a Commission license constitute a guarantee of business success.”

While the auction and use of this spectrum should have little impact on 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary spectrum (BAS) (see FCC Allocates 2 GHz Spectrum Chunk to Wireless Broadband), it may provide an indication of how much wireless companies are willing to pay for spectrum in the upcoming incentive UHF TV spectrum auction, and thus indirectly impact the amount of UHF TV spectrum that ultimately ends up being reallocated. If Auction 96 attracts wide interest and high bids, you can expect to see more pressure on the FCC to take additional spectrum from the 2 GHz BAS band.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.