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Another delay for FCC’s spectrum auction

As Congress anticipated, the FCC will need more time to prepare for the voluntary incentive spectrum auction that already has been delayed once.

The auction, planned for mid-2015, has been pushed back to early 2016, according to a blog post by the FCC staff directing the project. It originally was slated to take place in 2014, but the disastrous federal rollout of the Affordable Care Act prompted the agency to delay.

While FCC staff allege the latest delay is tied to the NAB’s lawsuit over station coverage areas, they concede in their post that “the complexity of designing and implementing the auction” is a primary reason for the latest delay.

Certainly, the additional time provides the commission more opportunity to attempt to convince broadcasters to surrender their licenses. To that end, the FCC is planning to tour the country in the coming months to make their case to stations individually.

Industry observers also note that the two smallest national wireless companies, Sprint and T-Mobile, may take advantage of this new delay to press for more favorable bidding conditions, potentially including restrictions on industry behemoths AT&T and Verizon.

Moreover, the new schedule gives the FCC much-needed leeway to ensure the auction is efficient and successful, a challenge Congress clearly anticipated when they gave the agency 10 years to complete the auction.

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