By Mary Kirby in Philadelphia

AirCell, JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV and Verizon Airfone are among nine companies sanctioned by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to participate in the agency’s upcoming auction of commercial air-to-ground (ATG) spectrum licences.

These well-known suppliers to the aviation industry will join AC BidCo, Acadia Broadband, AMTS Consortium, Intelligent Transportation & Monitoring Wireless, Space Data Spectrum Holdings and Unison Spectrum in the 10 May auction, says the FCC in a notice.

Three entities that previously indicated an interest in participating in the auction, but ultimately failed to qualify, are Ivars Upatnieks, Nsoro and WorldCell.

The auction will determine if overlapping, cross-polarized licenses of 3MHz are distributed among some of the bidders or if the spectrum is to be split into exclusive 3MHz and 1MHz licences. The former will ensure that more than one company can deploy wireless broadband services to the flying public.

A mock auction will be held on 8 May to familiarise the companies with the FCC auction system. The formal 10 May auction will begin at 11:00. The auction will be conducted online and by telephone.

Winning bidders “will be required to disclose in their long-form applications the specific terms, conditions, and parties involved in all bidding consortia, joint ventures, partnerships, and other agreements or arrangements entered into relating to the competitive bidding process”, says the agency.

It adds: “If an applicant is found to have violated the antitrust laws in connection with its participation in the competitive bidding process, it may be subject to forfeiture of its upfront payment, down payment, or full bid amount and may be prohibited from participating in future auctions.”

As previously reported by Flight's 24h data and news service, Air Transport Intelligence, Airfone is guaranteed the use of 1MHz for five years to continue offering its narrowband services, regardless of the auction’s outcome.

Source: Flight International