FCC Reaffirms Pro-Competitive Reserve Spectrum in Incentive Auction


Commission Maintains Spectrum Reserve of Up to 30 Megahertz in 2016 Incentive Auction

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2015 – The Federal Communications Commission reaffirmed its decision to establish a market-based spectrum reserve of up to 30 megahertz of spectrum in next year’s incentive auction in order to promote competition in the wireless marketplace. Non-nationwide providers as well as nationwide providers who currently hold less than one-third of available high-quality low-band spectrum in a given license area will be eligible to utilize this first-of-its-kind reserve.

With this vote, the Commission denied a petition for reconsideration asking the Commission to increase the reserve to at least 40 megahertz for qualified licensees. In the May 2014 Mobile Spectrum Holdings Report & Order , the Commission voted to reserve up to 30 megahertz of spectrum within the 600 MHz band to promote competition. Those rules established a market-based reserve of no more than 30 megahertz of spectrum for non-nationwide providers as well as nationwide providers that hold less than one-third of available low-band spectrum in a license area. The Commission also established a spectrum reserve trigger to ensure that both reserve-eligible and non-reserve-eligible bidders bear a fair share of the cost of the incentive auction.

Commission policies related to the spectrum reserve are designed to strike a balance among a number of objectives, including making additional low-band spectrum available to multiple providers, ensuring that all bidders have an opportunity to acquire a stake in the 600 MHz ecosystem, and ensuring competitive bidding. The reserve is designed to protect against excessive concentration in holdings of low-band spectrum, while also promoting competition by bidders for both reserved and unreserved spectrum.

With yesterday’s vote, the Commission also denied a petition asking the FCC to reconsider its decision in the May 2014 Order not to adopt specific weighting factors that would apply to different spectrum bands when examining the effects of sales of spectrum between two parties in a given geographic market.

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