The incentive auction is an event in which broadcasters have the option to sell off their current frequencies to the FCC for use by cellular companies and two-way radio communications and either shut down operations or relocate to a subcarrier of another station in that market. The auction is done in reverse form. The opening bids, with many stations worth hundreds of millions, begin to reduce as the auction proceeds. The auction started on March 29, 2016. Stations who wish to enter the auction had from December 1, 2015 to December 18, 2015 to register.
On April 29, 2016, the FCC announced that the start date during the auction for stations to surrender their spectrum by either shutting down or moving to a lower channel that the digital spectrum will end at channel 29. It currently ends at channel 51. Stations remaining on the air that currently transmit on 30 to 36 and 38 to 51 will move to channel 29 or lower. Channels 30 to 36 and 38 to 51 will be allocated for broadband and wireless services. 37 will remain used for radio astrology and medical telemetry.