With the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Congress amended Section 309(j)(14) of the Communications Act of 1934, setting a February 17, 2009 deadline for the switchover from analog television to digital television. After this deadline, all full-power television station licensees that hold a license to operate on a frequency between 698 and 806 megahertz (MHz) may no longer operate on that frequency. On a television, these frequencies encompass channels 52 to 69.
As a result of this freed up bandwidth going back to the government, Congress instructed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction off licenses to operate on these frequencies. The purpose of these auctions is to encourage the development of new technology, to encourage competition, to recover a portion of the value of the spectrum for public use, and to encourage efficient and intensive use of the electromagnetic spectrum. According to some estimates, the auction of these frequencies could raise in excess of $10 billion. [More]