Twelve 700 MHz licenses to be up for bids – again – come July, 2011 in Auction 92

The FCC has announced plans to auction a grab-bag of 700 MHz broadband licenses. The 16 licenses on the auction block include six in Puerto Rico, three in North Dakota, and three in the Carolinas, plus odds and ends in Texas, West Virginia and Virginia. If any of these licenses looks familiar to you, there’s a reason: all were previously up for grabs in Auction 73 almost three years ago, at which time they either went unsold or were defaulted on by winning bidders.  

The proposed terms of the recently-announced auction (dubbed Auction 92) are unremarkable, except for one slightly unusual feature: the Commission is proposing to set the minimum opening bid for all channels based on Auction 73 numbers. That is, the minimum bid amount would be the greater of (1) the minimum opening bid amount for the same license in Auction 73 or (2) 10% of the highest bid amount received for the license in Auction 73. The hope is that, by upping the minimum opening bids somewhat, the Commission may be able to shorten the auction process, since it will presumably take fewer bidding rounds to get to the final auction prices.

With two exceptions, all of the licenses are for 12 MHz of spectrum for Cellular Market Areas (CMA’s) in the B Block.   (The two exceptions: the Wheeling and Lubbock licenses are for 12 MHz in larger Economic Areas (EA’s) in the A Block.)   Comments on the proposed auction procedures are due no later than January 12, 2011; reply comments may be filed by January 27.   The auction is scheduled to begin on July 19, 2011.