600 MHz Incentive Auction Resource Info

Date Updated: June 26, 2019 FAQ #5880
Question:
What information can you provide about the 600 MHz incentive auction?
Answer:

Background Info

Congress has directed the FCC to reallocate some of the UHF TV Spectrum for use by broadband wireless devices, such as smart phones. Unlike the 700 MHz auction, the incentive auction offers broadcasters an opportunity to voluntarily give up spectrum in return for a share of the auction proceeds, hence the term “incentive auction”. This auction is sometimes referred to as the “600 MHz Auction” because the frequencies offered at auction start at 698 MHz (currently the top-end of the UHF TV band) and move down from there. After 4 stages, supply met demand with a reallocation of 84 MHz (614-698 MHz). TV stations electing to continue operations will be “re-packed” into channels below TV37. The UHF TV band is therefore getting smaller, and what remains will likely be more crowded. Info from the FCC can be found on their website.


What Can I Do About It?

CONVERSION - The Shure 600 MHz Conversion Process facilitates operation in permitted bands for QLX-D, ULX-D, AXT and PSM 1000. Watch the video below for more information.


What is the Incentive Auction?

Congress has directed the FCC to reallocate some of the UHF TV Spectrum for use by broadband wireless devices, such as smart phones. Unlike the 700 MHz auction, the incentive auction offers broadcasters an opportunity to voluntarily give up spectrum in return for a share of the auction proceeds, hence the term “incentive auction”. This auction is sometimes referred to as the “600 MHz Auction” because the frequencies offered at auction start at 698 MHz (currently the top-end of the UHF TV band) and move down from there. After 4 stages, supply met demand with a reallocation of 84 MHz (614-698 MHz). TV stations electing to continue operations will be “re-packed” into channels below TV37. The UHF TV band is therefore getting smaller, and what remains will likely be more crowded.

How does the Auction work?

The Incentive Auction consists of several sequential phases: the reverse auction, forward auction, and spectrum re-pack. In the reverse auction phase, broadcasters that have elected to participate submit an exit price for relinquishing their spectrum assignment. The level of participation in this phase determines how much spectrum is available for auction and its corresponding valuation. These figures are also known as the clearing target and clearing cost. After the reverse auction, the buyers (such as, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Dish, T-Mobile, etc.) bid on the available spectrum during the forward auction. If the dollar amount generated during the forward auction is less than that of the reverse auction, the process repeats. This sequence of reverse and forward auctions is known as a “stage.” After 4 stages that began March 2016 and ran through Jan 2017, the dollar amount generated in the forward auction exceeded that of the reverse auction.

Since Stage 4 of the auction was successful, a new UHF band plan will be issued and work begins to repack the UHF TV spectrum. Once the band plan is made public, the clock starts on a 39-month transition. During this time, broadcasters will move to their new TV channel assignments, and the auction winners will begin building out their new services. Once a new service commences operation, wireless microphones that operate in the spectrum between 617 MHz through 652 MHz and 663 MHz through 698 MHz can no longer be used, making this a rolling transition on a city by city basis. However, the entire repacking process is scheduled to be completed by the end of this 39-month period, after which time no wireless microphones may legally operate in any of the auctioned spectrum, regardless of its level of occupancy. The transition ends on July 13, 2020.

How will the Auction affect my wireless systems?

The FCC has successfully auctioned 84 MHz of UHF spectrum. 70 MHz of this spectrum will be reallocated to mobile broadband services. A 3 MHz band and an 11 MHz band will be used as a guard band and a duplex gap band. During the 39-month transition period, if you own wireless microphone systems that operate in auctioned spectrum (617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz), it will be your responsibility not to interfere with new services once they begin operation. At the conclusion of the transition period (July 13, 2020), operation of wireless microphones in the auction spectrum will not be permitted by law. On a practical level, it is likely that these new services will create an unpredictable spectrum environment, resulting in interference that will impact the reliability of a wireless microphone operating in this spectrum. Equipment owners are advised to confirm the operating frequency range of their systems and comply with the new rules of operation during and after the transition period. It is worth noting that 653 MHz through 663 MHz will still be available for wireless microphone operation, with some restrictions, during and after the transition period. 


TIMELINE

March 2016 - Jan 2017

  • FCC Auction took place allowing TV station to sell their spectrum and mobile phone carriers to buy spectrum.

April 13, 2017

  • Start of transition period

November 30, 2018

  • End of Phase 1 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Phoenix, Salt Lake, Vegas, Memphis, Fresno, Little Rock, Des Moines, and more will be moving in this phase.

April 12, 2019

  • End of Phase 2 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Denver, Portland, San Diego, Columbus, Kansas City, and more will be moving in this phase.

June 21, 2019

  • End of Phase 3 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Austin, Albuquerque, Lexington, Green Bay, and more will be moving in this phase.

August 2, 2019

  • End of Phase 4 of transition.
  • TV Stations in NYC, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Harrisburg, Providence, and more will be moving in this phase.

September 6, 2019

  • End of Phase 5 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville, Birmingham, Greensboro, Richmond, Mobile, Knoxville, Columbia, and more will be moving in this phase.

October 18, 2019

  • End of Phase 6 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Louisville, Lexington, Dayton, Charleston, and more will be moving in this phase.

January 17, 2020

  • End of Phase 7 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Tampa, Seattle, Orlando, Hartford, Norfolk, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Providence, Mobile, Knoxville, and more will be moving in this phase.

March 13, 2020

  • End of Phase 8 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Sacramento, St Louis, Baltimore, Columbus, Buffalo, and more will be moving in this phase.

May 1, 2020

  • End of Phase 9 of transition.
  • TV Stations in NYC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, Tampa, Denver, Orlando, Sacramento, St Louis, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, and more will be moving in this phase.

July 3, 2020

  • End of Phase 10 of transition.
  • TV Stations in Atlanta, Phoenix, Cleveland, Charlotte, Nashville, Milwaukee, Greenville, Birmingham, Fresno, Albany, Ft Meyers, and more will be moving in this phase.

July 13, 2020

  • End of transition period. All TV stations will have vacated the 600 MHz spectrum and either went off air or moved below 608 MHz.