Broadcasters and spectrum buyers proceed to fourth auction round

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The latest stage of the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction has ended, with wireless companies once again refusing to increase their outlay.

The FCC is conducting the auction to free up bandwidth for the growing number of mobile devices.

Stage 3 concluded Monday after just a few hours of bidding, with buyers “simply reducing their demand rather than up the price,” according to Multichannel News. Broadcasters were seeking $40.3 billion for 108 MHz. Stage 4 begins Dec. 13 for 84 MHz. Each stage contains fewer channels of spectrum until broadcasters’ desired earnings match what buyers will pay.

Because Stages 2 and 3 of the auction “differed in size by only one TV channel, this result probably didn’t surprise anyone,” noted Dennis Haarsager, a former public media executive who is now consulting on the auction and other technical issues. Based on his analysis of the preceding rounds, “we’re in for an interesting Stage 4,” Haarsager writes.

Attorney Scott R. Flick, chief editor of law firm Pillsbury’s website CommLawCenter,  wrote Monday that it’s “reasonable to assume” that buyers will continue to hold fast on outlay, with the auction progressing into additional stages “far into 2017.”

“Having taken six years to reach this point, the fact that we are measuring entire auction stages in minutes is disappointing to say the least,” Flick said.