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U.S. FCC delays incentive auction of airwaves to mid-2015

Alina Selyukh
Friday, 6 Dec 2013 | 1:16 PM ET

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The Federal Communications Commission plans to hold the so-called incentive auction of airwaves for mid-2015, confirming a long-expected delay from the original plan to hold the sale in 2014, the agency chairman announced on Friday.

The FCC is now drafting the rules to reshuffle the ownership of valuable frequencies that are increasingly needed to satisfy demand from data-hungry devices.

As part of the auction, the FCC would offer broadcasters incentives to give up control of airwaves and then sell them to

telecommunications companies such as Verizon Communication Inc, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc..

The process has been a challenge because of the complex engineering and political ramifications, including a vocal push from smaller wireless carriers for limitations on how much spectrum the larger companies can acquire at the auction.

"As any responsible manager knows, managing a complex undertaking such as this also requires an ongoing commitment to continuously and honestly assess its readiness and its project plan. I believe we can conduct a successful auction in the middle of 2015," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post on Friday. (fcc.us/19m1fvB)