Broadcasters delay spectrum auction for at least year, but hey, they're entitled

28 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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Ten years isn’t so long. Unless you’re a dog. Or the Internet.

The possibility of converting prime spectrum from TV broadcasting to mobile broadband use has been pushed off another year. The FCC is delaying the planned auction of 600 MHz broadcast frequencies until 2016, instead of next summer.

It’ll take that long to sort out a lawsuit filed by the National Association of Broadcasters – the primary lobbying organisation for TV and radio station owners – according to the FCC

Earlier this week, the court issued a briefing schedule in which the final briefs are not due until late January 2015. Oral arguments will follow at a later date yet to be determined, with a decision not likely until mid-2015. We are confident we will prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016.

In an odd sort of statement, the NAB claimed the delay isn’t its fault. The process should take a long time. Or something like that…

As NAB has said repeatedly, it is more important to get the auction done right than right now. Given its complexity, there is good reason Congress gave the FCC 10 years to complete the proceeding. We reject suggestions that our narrowly focused lawsuit is cause for delay.

Neither broadcasters nor mobile telecoms companies have shown universal enthusiasm for the auctions, which, it is assumed, would raise billions of dollars, some of which would compensate broadcasters for the transferred spectrum and the rest would pay for upgrading U.S. public safety networks.

But the mobile bandwidth crunch is not slowing down, and that’s a problem that will impact everyone’s prosperity and quality of life. Ten years is way too long to wait.