Citing the recently ended government shutdown, the Federal Communications Commission has delayed the beginning of the H-Block spectrum auction by eight days, pushing the start date back from Jan. 14 to Jan. 22. The H-Block auction, which will be known as Auction 96, will include 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1915-1920/1995-2000 MHz bands.
“These schedule changes are necessary to give potential bidders and commission staff additional time for planning and preparation for Auction 96 upon the resumption of regular commission operations,” the FCC noted in a public notice announcing the delay.
The delay also pushed back the previously scheduled dates for the auction tutorial, short-form filing window, upfront payments and the mock auction.
Licenses involved in Auction 96 will be offered up on an “Economic Areas” basis, which means there will be 176 licenses up for bid. A similar break out of licenses was used for the A- and E-Block licenses during the 700 MHz auction in 2008. H-Block license winners will also be required to meet build out requirements of 40% population coverage within four years and 70% coverage within 10 years.
The spectrum was part of Dish Network’s spectrum holdings prior to the FCC allowing Dish to use some of its spectrum in the 2 GHz band initially set aside for satellite services for a terrestrial network. In allowing Dish to use that spectrum for the terrestrial network, it was forced to give up 10 megahertz of its 40 megahertz total back to the FCC. Dish is under the gun to build out the 30 megahertz of spectrum it now controls covering 40% of the population in those markets within four years and 70% of the market within 10 years.
The FCC is also scheduled to conduct two further spectrum auctions this year, including the so-called AWS-3 auction and the 600 MHz incentive auction. Most industry observers don’t expect the 600 MHz auction to begin until at least early 2015.
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