The FCC announced Friday that, on January 14, 2014, it will be auctioning off the first major piece of spectrum to hit the market since 2008. The auction will offer up 10 MHz from the H-Block, currently used for PCS service, for a minimum of $1.56 billion. Analysts expect Sprint to be the major bidder for the spectrum, as the company has expressed interest in the H block before, but Dish Network already controls spectrum adjacent to the bandwidth and could make a strong play on that basis.
Unlike the FCC's planned incentive auctions, which will offer broadcasters money in exchange for shifting spectrum over to the wireless industry, this spectrum is considered underused, and the revenue will be directed to the FirstNet program, a high-speed network built exclusively for emergency responders. As commissioner Ajit Pai told Fierce Wireless, "The sooner we get the currently fallow H Block spectrum into the commercial marketplace, the sooner it can be used to deliver bandwidth-intensive mobile services and applications."