Auction Results Reaction: Telcos Love Outcome, Broadcasters More Muted

While everyone involved with the incentive auction breathed a sigh of relief that it has officially closed, many in both the wireless and broadcast industry echoed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who said, “there is still much work ahead of us.” Indeed, he’s hoping for “a successful post-auction transition, including a smooth and efficient repacking process.”

CTIA VP Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann stated the day “marks the culmination of years of hard work from Congress, the FCC and all stakeholders, and CTIA is proud to have played a key role in these efforts. We look forward to getting to work on a successful, smooth and timely repacking and transition that will unlock spectrum for a new round of mobile innovation and investment and enable a more connected life for all Americans.”   

The Wireless Infrastructure Association “congratulates the winners of the FCC’s 600 MHz spectrum auction, and our members stand ready to deploy new infrastructure and activate mobile technologies that will use this spectrum as it comes online,” said WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein in a statement. “Increasing the amount of spectrum available to wireless providers benefits consumers and will lead to greater economic development in communities around the nation.”

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today congratulated the many small and rural carriers that won bids in the FCC’s wireless spectrum incentive auction, including more than two dozen bidders that leveraged the rural credit that NTCA advocated to obtain. “This showing demonstrates the commitment that rural telecommunications providers have to provide state-of-the-art communications services for the benefit of the communities they serve, and highlights the benefits of the FCC’s decision to establish a rural bidding credit for this auction so that those most interested in finding innovative solutions to serve rural markets have at least a better opportunity to do so,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith stated: “Now the FCC and the broadcast industry face the unprecedented task of moving almost a thousand TV stations — far more than originally anticipated — to new channels in very tight time frames.” NAB remains concerned about the impact of the auction on non-participants, such as the “hundreds” of FM stations co-located on TV towers and hopes for a “balanced approach” to the repack that’s “fair to all stakeholders.”

It’s worth mentioning Inside Towers reported that NAB filed a Petition for Reconsideration with the FCC, asking for several changes to the repack plan. Incentive Auction Task Force Chair Gary Epstein told reporters yesterday that remains pending, and if it’s granted “some things could change,” but in the meantime, “we need to go forward” with the repack plan as is “until the commission decides otherwise.”    

Preston Padden is the former executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, which helped represent stations interested in the auction. Now a consultant, he told Inside Towers: “The broadcasters showed up and the carriers did not. Gary Epstein deserves an award for five years of public service.” Padden’s referring to original estimates by some within the FCC and also on Wall Street who pegged the amount of winning bids for broadcast spectrum at much, much higher than the $10 billion total to be spread out among 175 winning broadcast owners.

April 14, 2017      

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