Introduction

Since 1994, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has conducted auctions of licenses and permits for electromagnetic spectrum used to provide wireless and broadcast services. These auctions are open to any eligible company or individual that submits an application and upfront payment and is found to be a qualified bidder by the Commission.  Beginning in 2012, the FCC has also used reverse auctions to distribute Universal Service Fund support.
 
FCC auctions are conducted electronically over the Internet. Bidders and the public can follow the progress of the auction and view the results on the FCC website. 
 
In 1993 Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which gave the Commission authority to use competitive bidding to choose from among two or more mutually exclusive applications for an initial license. Prior to this historic legislation, the Commission mainly relied upon comparative hearings and lotteries to select a single licensee from a pool of competing applicants for a license. The Commission has found that spectrum auctions more efficiently assign licenses than either comparative hearings or lotteries. The auction approach is intended to award the licenses to those who will use them most effectively. Additionally, by using auctions, the Commission has reduced the average time from initial application to license grant to less than one year, and the public is now receiving the direct financial benefit from the award of licenses.
 
In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Congress extended and expanded the FCC's spectrum auction authority. The Act requires the FCC to use auctions to resolve competing applications for initial licenses unless certain exemptions apply, including for public safety radio services and non-commercial educational and public broadcast stations. In 2012, Congress granted the FCC general authority to conduct two-sided “incentive auctions” and specific authority to conduct the television broadcast incentive auction, which freed up part of the spectrum used previously for analog television for more advanced wireless uses, such as mobile broadband.  
 

 

Disclaimer

The FCC will make available a browser-based Auctions Bidding System for auction bidding purposes. The Commission makes no warranty whatsoever with respect to the Auctions Bidding System. In no event shall the Commission, or any of its officers, employees or agents, be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, but not limited to, loss of business profits, business interruption, loss of business information, or any other loss) arising out of or relating to the existence, furnishing, functioning or use of the Auctions Bidding System that is accessible to bidders in connection with this auction. Moreover, no obligation or liability will arise out of the Commission's technical, programming or other advice or service provided in connection with the Auctions Bidding System.
 

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Updated: 
Thursday, January 5, 2023