The FCC’s Broadcast Spectrum Incentive Auction Is Underway

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on March 29, 2016


Stanford Scholars Ilya Segal and Jonathan Levin Helped Design the First-of-Its-Kind Auction


Today kicked off the first step of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadcast spectrum incentive auction. It is an unprecedented undertaking aimed at “…repurpose[ing] as much spectrum for mobile broadband as the market demands to meet growing consumer needs,” said Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman.


The broadcast spectrum incentive auction is comprised of two separate yet interdependent auctions: a reverse auction, which will determine the price at which broadcasters will voluntarily relinquish their spectrum usage rights; and a forward auction, which will determine the price broadband companies will be prepared to pay for new spectrum wireless licenses.


A Reuters’ article from today reported on the estimated timeframe for the entire process:


Of the 1,800 eligible broadcasters, an undisclosed number submitted applications to take part. Eligible broadcasters have until 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday to submit a binding agreement to take part. The reverse auction should be completed by summer and will be followed by a "forward" auction, where the government sells to telecommunications operators and other bidders the spectrum, which it will package into new bands. The results of that auction are expected by October.


Professors Ilya Segal and Jonathan Levin, both with Stanford University, are two of the leading experts in auction theory and implementation chosen by the FCC to design the unprecedented spectrum incentive auction. Professor Segal focused on designing the reverse auction, the component aimed at creating incentives for broadcasters to relinquish their spectrum licenses. And Professor Levin worked on designing the forward auction, the section that will present newly available spectrum to broadband companies for bidding.


Professors Segal and Levin graciously shared their expertise and time with TAP in order to explain the significance and complexities of designing the broadcast spectrum incentive auction.


Read the TAP post: “The Challenges in Designing the FCC’s Broadcast Spectrum Incentive Auction.”