April 29, 2015 - 12:33 pm
By Roger C. Sherman | Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

The AWS-3 auction was a blockbuster success – 1,611 new spectrum licenses, 31 winning bidders, and more than $41 billion in net revenues--not to mention that it made available an additional 65 megahertz of spectrum for consumers’ mobile broadband use.  The story of this historic auction is still being written as we undertake our review of the “long-form” license applications filed by winning bidders. We do not yet know if every winning bidder is qualified to receive licenses and/or bidding credits, which is why the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is undertaking a thorough and comprehensive review of all applications.

Today, we released the second “Accepted for Filing” Public Notice in connection with the license applications filed by the winning bidders in the auction. This means that, following its initial review of the applications, including requesting additional information from some applicants, Bureau staff has determined that nine more AWS-3 license applications are now complete, in addition to the applications that the Bureau staff previously accepted for filing. Given the intense public interest in this process, it is important to understand what today’s public notice does and, perhaps more importantly, does not do.

Today’s Accepted for Filing Public Notice is just that – a notice to the public that certain applications are now complete and available for public review.  The Notice does not opine on the merits of any of the applications, nor does it make a finding that any of the applicants who have requested small business bidding credits are eligible for – or will receive – them. 

This step in our standard license application review procedure begins a newphase in our substantive review of the applications, in which the Bureau staff gives the public the opportunity to review the applications and submit Petitions to Deny any winning bidder’s application. The deadline for filing Petitions to Deny any of the nine applications made public today is May 11, 2015.  In parallel,Bureau staff will continue to rigorously assess applicants’ compliance with Commission rules. If any Petitions to Deny are filed, they will be considered as part of our substantive review.  We will consider each application on its own merits and make licensing and any bidding credit decisions according to the specific facts and totality of circumstances in the record.

The most challenging part of our review is therefore just starting.  While we previously granted several uncontested applications representing $30 billion in winning bids, there are now 19 applications that are undergoing a thorough, substantive review by Bureau staff, and one remaining application that has not yet been accepted for filing.  The applications that seek small business bidding credits are the most complex, given that they detail the nature of the applicant’s ownership and control structure, and require the review of the related corporate agreements that in some cases consist of a highly complex set of rights and obligations, including agreements pertaining to equity ownership, funding, joint bidding, and management services.

These are complex and important matters, and we have a long way to go in our review before we reach final conclusions on all of the applications.  While it would be inappropriate to make any predictions or judgments about any particular application, it is certain that staff’s review of the applications will be rigorous and methodical.  At the end of this process we will issue licenses only to entities that meet our eligibility standards.  Likewise, we will award bidding credits only to those applicants who we find are eligible under the Commission’s rules.