Placing Auction 97 in the History Publications

The putting in a bid in Auction 97 – the AWS-3 auction – has determined. There will be a lot of discussion about the outcomes over the days, weeks and weeks ahead, and rightly so – this was an historic auction. Although winning bidders must still create payments and submit applications prior to the grant of licenses, by any measure it’s safe to say that the auction was an overwhelming success. In line with the information available at this time, here are the highlights:

  • 65 megahertz of range made available to meet the Nation’s demand for wireless broadband;
  • $7 billion to fund the Nation’s first nationwide broadband public safety system;
  • $300 million for public safety communications research;
  • $115 million in grants for 911, E911, and NextGen 911 implementation;
  • Greater than $20 billion for deficit reduction; and
  • Funding for relocating Federal systems.

With all the buzz about the auction revenues, let’s not forget the ultimate purpose of this auction – to make a lot more spectrum available for wireless broadband. Extra spectrum resources will improve wireless providers’ ability to meet capacity and protection needs across the country. This means better cellular service – faster speeds and greater access – for customers.

5 years ago, many people doubted that we would succeed in making AWS-3 spectrum accessible. It is because of dedication, hard work, and compromise that a variety of government and industry stakeholders came together to build up a solution that made much of this spectrum newly available for commercial use. NTIA, the Department of Protection, other Federal agencies, and the White-colored House Office of Science and Technology Policy all played an important role in pushing and shaping a new way for Federal agencies to think about spectrum and spectrum sharing. And these efforts were strongly encouraged with a bipartisan group of leaders from the House and Senate Commerce Committees as well as the House and Senate Armed Solutions Committees. There is much we have discovered from this process that we can create upon in our future efforts in order to free up more spectrum to meet the nation’s wireless needs.

Over the next few weeks the provisionally-winning AWS-3 bidders can file applications and make payments for their winning bids. Our team in the Cellular Bureau will thoroughly review and scrutinize each application to assure that granting each license is in the public interest and, where applicable, that each applicant has complied with the Commission’s bidding credit rules. Licenses will be issued, allowing licensees to use the spectrum consistent with our rules and coordination procedures. The downlink in 2155-2180 MHz will be immediately readily available for use after licenses are granted, and licensees may coordinate along with government users for shared access in the 1755-1780 MHz and 1695-1710 MHz bands as government customers transition their systems (see the Joint Public Notice for information on the coordination process).

As essential as it is to meeting wireless consumers’ broadband needs, making the AWS-3 spectrum available is but a single step toward making more range available for commercial use – an ongoing policy priority for the Commission. Along with AWS-3, over the past few years the Commission auctioned and licensed the 10 megahertz H block, changed guidelines to facilitate wireless broadband in 30 megahertz in the Wireless Communications Service, created new terrestrial cellular broadband rights for 40 megahertz in AWS-4, proposed specific guidelines for innovative shared use of up to 150 megahertz in the 3. five GHz band, and greatly increased the usability of 100 megahertz of unlicensed spectrum in the five GHz band. And, to meet the demand for valuable low-band range, we are well along in the process of developing the rules for the first ever motivation auction, which will begin early next year.

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