FCC's planned incentive auction rules would set aside spectrum for smaller carriers

Fiercewireless.com reports that the FCC is contemplating a plan that would reserve for smaller carriers a chunk of the spectrum to be auctioned in next year’s planned incentive auctions of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum, according to a Re/code report.

The report, citing unnamed sources briefed on the plan, said that the rules being floated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would create two separate classes of licenses that carriers could bid on, restricted and unrestricted.

Every carrier could bid for the spectrum, which would be mostly paired in 5 MHz blocks in markets across the U.S, the report said. However, crucially, if bidding by carriers reaches a to-be-determined threshold, the FCC would reserve no more than 30 MHz of spectrum in any market for companies that don’t currently control a lot of spectrum in that market. Such a move could push Verizon and AT&T to outbid each other for the unrestricted licenses. The Re/code report also said the FCC has proposed setting limits on restricted licenses so the winners couldn’t immediately sell them to Verizon and AT&T.

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