The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to seek ways to make more spectrum available for broadband wireless devices. In 2012, the FCC announced its intention to reallocate a portion of the UHF TV band for this purpose through an incentive auction. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the incentive auction of UHF television spectrum will occur sometime in early 2016.
The FCC has approved a Report and Order, which outlines the parameters of the incentive auction. This document will be released sometime in mid-2014. The incentive auction will reallocate a portion of the 600 MHz band, extending downward from 698 MHz. We will not know the exact amount of UHF spectrum to be auctioned until the auction has concluded.
The auction band plan specifies separate uplink and downlink bands, with an 11 MHz “mid-band gap” in between. According to preliminary information from the FCC, a portion of this 11 MHz gap may be reserved for wireless microphone operation. Wireless microphones may also operate in an additional 6-10 MHz guard band between the auctioned spectrum and the upper boundary of the new TV band, on a shared basis with unlicensed “white space” devices.
Additionally, wireless microphones may continue to operate in any unoccupied TV channel on a shared basis with unlicensed devices. The commission expects that at least one unoccupied TV channel will remain available in each broadcast market. Reservation of these channels for interference protection at specific times and locations will still be possible using the nationwide geo-location databases.
The Report and Order calls for a 39 month transition period upon completion of the incentive auction. The vote by the commissioners was 3 to 2 indicating that some aspects of the Order are still under debate, potentially impacting the plan.
- Where it all began - The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012
- Incentive Auction Notice of Proposed Rule Making
- FCC Incentive Auction Press Release
- Fact Sheet: Summary of Upcoming Proceedings Related to the Incentive Auction
- Staff Summary: Incentive Auction Order and Report
- Statement of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
- Statement of FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn
- Statement of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
- Dissenting Statement of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly
- Dissenting Statement of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai