The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has pushed the schedule for a major auction of low-frequency airwaves to early 2016 from mid-2015 due to its complex procedure and a pending court challenge, said a commission’s official in a blog post on Friday.
The federal agency is currently working on rules for the so-called incentive airwaves auction.
The auction would offer the wireless carriers with the opportunity for the first time since 2008 to purchase airwaves that are considered to be the “beach-front property” of radio spectrum for better strength and reach.
The analysts call the proposed auction plan as the most complex undertaking of the FCC to date. The auction aims to balance several political, economic and engineering considerations to encourage the requirement to woo broadcasters to give up the airwaves in the first place.
The delay will offer the federal agency with an additional time to influence TV station owners to participate as well as T-Mobile US Inc to argue for bidding restrictions on major arch rivals Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.
Concerned over the potential impact on TV stations, the National Association of Broadcasters had filed a petition before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in order to review the elements of the planned auction process followed by the federal agency.
But the court pushed back the last date on final briefs in the case until late January next year.
Gary Epstein, chairperson of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, wrote in the blog post, “We are confident we will prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016.”
The NAB, however, refuted the notion that its lawsuit was the reason behind the delay.
“We are looking forward to a speedy resolution to our legal challenge as well as a successful auction that preserves access to free and local TV for every resident of the US,” NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the FCC is mulling over organizing a road show this fall in order to convince owners of TV station to participate in the auction.
The wireless carriers have termed the delay in auction unfortunate but welcomed all the effort taken to get the things on right track.