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The FCC will hold its first major auction of wireless airwaves in six years today, with a 10 mhz slot (5MHz x2) in the PCS band, near 2 GHz. The FCC auction (auction 96 and live bidding results), is expected to generate over $1.6 billion for the US Treasury.

The FCC is conducting the auction over the Internet during an undetermined number of days, with no winners announced until all bidding has finished. The FCC split the U.S. into 176 areas, and auction participants bid anonymously in successive rounds

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau identified 23 applicants qualified to bid in the upcoming auction of 176 H Block licenses in the 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz bands (pdf).

Dish is expected to win the bulk of the spectrum. The other major carriers declined to participate. Dish agreed to bid the reserve price of $1.56 billion in exchange for getting greater flexibility from the FCC to convert part of its 2 GHz AWS-4 spectrum from uplink to downlink operations.

The H Block is a 10 MHz block of paired airwaves that runs from 1915-1920 MHz (for the uplink) and from 1995-2000 MHz (for the downlink). Dish controls spectrum adjacent to a portion of the H Block, called AWS-4. The spectrum also adjoins Sprints FD-LTE service, which also uses 5MHz x 2, in the PCS “G” block.

The U.S. government’s last major spectrum auction was in 2008 for the 700 MHz band. Since then smartphones have taken off, and mobile data use with them.

The four national wireless carriers and satellite-TV operator Dish Network are estimated to spend at least $46 billion on spectrum in a series of auctions and smaller transactions over the next 24 months, according to telecom analysts at New Street Research.

The biggest spectrum auction will happen next year as some 120 MHz, between UHF television channels 30-50, are auctioned off.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Dish: Lower 700MHz Power Ups Speculation, AT&T and Verizon: No 700 MHz Interoperability For You!, AT&T Competitors: No 700MHz Roaming, FCC Announces H Block Auction, Dish Won’t Bid on H Block Spectrum, AT&T Buying Leap Wireless (Cricket), FCC Limits Dish on LTE Terrestrial Spectrum, Dish: On the Move, Dish and Sprint Battle over PCS band Extension, FCC Approves 2.3 GHz for AT&T, AT&T Likely to Get 2.3 GHz, Sprint’s Dish Compromise, Nexus 4 Deals for Voice/Data, MetroPCS Merges with T-Mobile USA,

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