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On Thursday, the FCC adopted bidding rules for next year’s incentive auction. The Commission reiterated that the expected start date for the auction is March 29, 2016, and the application process should begin during the fall of this year. The Order also maintained its view that 30MHz of reserve spectrum should be large enough to benefit the small carriers. T-Mobile has been very vocal about their hopes that the FCC would increase the reserve to 40MHz. Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays noted, “Overall, we believe that despite prior concerns around the launch of the incentive auction, the FCC seems committed to commence the auction by the end of the first quarter of 2016, and then conclude it under the current administration’s term.
With that in mind, we believe that over the coming months, there is likely to be increased visibility around each carrier’s strategy to participate in the auction – including securing the estimated funding requirement.” Verizon hasn’t really committed to the auction, with management saying the company doesn’t necessarily need additional low band spectrum, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested. AT&T has committed to spend at least $9 billion, but Rozwadowski believes the prices will determine AT&T’s level of participation. Sprint hasn’t said too much on the auction, but T-Mobile is expected to participate as they continue to build out their low band spectrum. View the entire Order here.
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