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FCC delays spectrum auction to 2015

Procedures not yet set up to dole out television space for wireless use

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to delay the hotly anticipated auction of the former broadcast television spectrum space due to concerns that it is not yet ready to properly handle the reallocation process.

The FCC on Friday said that it would push back the target date for its Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction from 2014 to at least the middle of 2015 while it continues work on how the auction and transition of the spectrum space will be carried out.

New FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said that the decision to delay the auction was made over concerns that the process needs to be carefully examined and planned out in order to successfully carry out what he says will be the largest project in FCC history.

"Getting the right policy and procedures for the auction is only half the job," Wheeler said in announcing the delay.

"For the incentive auction to be a success, we must also ensure that the operating systems and software to run it work from the moment the first bid is placed, until the final broadcast station is relocated or repacked."

The Reg can't help but wonder if the recent botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act's HeathCare.gov website didn't induce a wee shiver of fear in the new FCC chairman's spine.

Designed as a means for increasing wireless broadband capacity and service options, the spectrum auction will see television spectrum holders auction off their shares of the now-defunct space to wireless network operators who will seek to transform the spectrum space for use as wireless broadband space.

The decision to delay the spectrum was met with approval by industry advocacy groups such as the National Association of Broadcasters, which said that the commission is right to put off the auction until the correct procedures can be put in place.

"As NAB has long maintained, given the complexity of the auction and its many moving parts, the most important goal is to get the auction done right," said NAB CEO Gordon Smith.

"We look forward to continuing our efforts with the Commission and industry stakeholders as we work towards achieving a successful auction that delivers spectrum for broadband while ensuring a vibrant future for broadcasting."

Likewise, wireless industry advocacy group CTIA said that it stood in support of the Commission's decision to hold off on the auction.

"As CTIA has previously stressed, the incentive auction is essential to unleashing necessary additional spectrum for mobile broadband," said CTIA president Steve Largent.

"I commend Chairman Wheeler for his efforts to advance this important proceeding and his commitment to conducting this critical auction by middle of 2015." ®

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