Federal Communications Commission today clarified the procedure for the assignment
phase of the auction, where winning bidders of generic frequency blocks will be
able to bid on specific frequencies.
“All bidders with winnings from the
are eligible to participate in the assignment
phase,” the commission announced
on the Incentive Auction Dashboard.
“Within a few business days after the end
of the clock phase, we expect to release a
public notice announcing when
bidding in the assignment phase will begin and
providing information on
assignment phase bidder education
These materials will include “an
and an assignment phase bidding system user
guide.” The assignment phase
tutorial will be similar the clock phase
tutorial—the clock phase being the one
currently in progress, where bidders continue to
bid on spectrum blocks.
The tutorial will review assignment-phase
and give examples of system calculations as well
as an overview of the bidding
system. The user guide is intended to provide
familiarity “with the
functionality of the assignment phase bidding
system, which is different from the
one used for the clock phase,” the
About a week after the bidder education
are posted online, auction staff will open a
“short preview period” of the
assignment-phase system, allow winning bidders
to log in, view the schedule and
download bidding options.
After the preview period, there will be a
practice assignment-phase auction followed by a
mock assignment-phase auction.
Details about the procedure for both will be
provided in a public notice following
the close of the clock phase. Once the practice
and mock auctions are done,
actual assignment-phase bidding will begin.
said they expect assignment-phase bidding to
“take several weeks” considering the
416 wireless licensing areas, referred to as
“partial economic areas” or PEAs, that have to be assigned
for both reserved and unreserved spectrum. Reserved spectrum comprises a
nationwide 30 MHz swath set aside for wireless bidders that don't already have
significant holdings in the low band—essentially, where TV used to
According to the commission ’s Aug.11,
Procedures Public Notice, “The final price that a
winning bidder must pay for a license it wins in
the assignment phase will be the final clock phase price
for the category of license it won within a
given PEA, adjusted by the percentage of any impairment to
the frequency block, plus any assignment phase
payment, all reduced by any designated entity bidding
The process of figuring out where to put
remaining TV stations in the smaller post-auction TV band commenced when the
stage rule of the auction was met (by meeting specific price
thresholds) Jan. 18. This is according to the Sept. 30
Transition Scheduling Plan Public Notice, which states, “As
soon as the final stage rule is satisfied, the final television channel
will be determined.”
Displaced TV stations will first receive a
confidential letter notifying them of their new channel assignment, most likely
within the next couple of weeks, according to an FCC official. Once the
wireless license assignment-phase bidding is complete, an Auction Closing and TV Station
Reassignment Public Notice noting all new channel assignments will be
TV Technology ran key
points of the Transition Scheduling Plan PN a few days after the
document was released and reproduces them here as they apply to the 84 MHz of
spectrum being cleared:
- At 84 MHz, 1,274 stations have to move.
- FCC started finalizing the repack once
the final stage rule was met Jan. 18.
- Each station eligible to remain
on the air will receive a confidential letter with
assignment, technical parameters and assigned
transition phase—likely within the next two weeks.
- Once the assignment phase of the forward auction
FCC will release an
“Auction Closing and TV Channel Reassignment Public
Notice” listing all post-auction television station channel
assignments, technical parameters and repack
- These deadlines
comprise 10 transition phases, each with sequential
testing periods and phase completion
commission sought feedback on whether or not it
should consider completion date waivers in some cases.)
- All stations within
Market Area will be assigned to no
than two transition phases.
- Transition phases
will all begin at
the same time, but have
phased completion dates.
- Stations moving to new channels will have
months from the release of the
“Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment PN”
to apply for construction
for facilities modifications.
- The construction permit deadline
be the phase completion
- With the exception of the first transition phase, the
phase will begin the day after
the phase completion date. Equipment tests
on post-auction channels will be confined to a
station’s specified test phase.
- Stations that may experience
or create interference at new
channels will have to coordinate equipment testing as
part of a “linked-station set”
in a daisy chain, illustrated above right.
- At 84 MHz, 710 stations are linked.
- This coordination may involve operating at a
lower power or accepting more
interference during testing.
- Stations that are not part of a
linked-station set may commence
testing without coordinating it with their
- The commission is proposing to allow a
percent increase in temporary pairwise
interference during the transition,
and no more than 0.5 percent afterward.
- The FCC’s Media Bureau will use
software programs to establish
the repack process:
| — The Phase Assignment Tool will assign TV stations to a specific transition phase based on constraints designed to minimize interference as channels are assigned in the auction process. These constraints include:
- Causing no more than 2 percent new interference to another station during the transition.
- No Canadian stations will be assigned before the third transition phase, and none will be assigned temporary channels.
- No more than 10 transition phases.
- No temporary channels will be assigned, with the possible exception of stations in complicated interference dependencies and those close to their post-auction channel assignment. (Discussed further below.)
- At least one, but no more than two transition phases per station.
- No phase can have more than 125 linked stations.
- No station in a “complicated” interference-interdependency will be assigned to the first phase.
- A difference of no more than 30 stations between the largest and smallest transition phases.
| — The Phase Scheduling Tool will be used to establish phase completion dates.
- This tool will divide the station transition into a pre-construction stage and a construction stage, with the goal of managing resource availability.
- It will incorporate specific estimates regarding the availability of tower crews.
- Tower crews will be divided into three categories—U.S. crews qualified for more difficult jobs, such as top-mounted antennas on towers exceeding 300 feet; U.S. crews qualified to do less difficult jobs; and Canadian crews.
- The software discounts the time allotted to multiple jobs on a single tower.
- It assumes that 75 percent of stations will need an auxiliary antenna.
- Testing periods for stations that complete the transition in four weeks will be "scaled up" to allow four weeks of testing.
Again, TV Technology strongly encourages readers to consult the FCC Media Bureau’s Transition
Scheduling Plan Public Notice, Appendix A, which starts on p. 19 and lays out more technical details of the commission’s proposed repack plan.
- The commission would prefer to make
sought comment on them nonetheless:
- Should the commission decide to use temporary
channel assignments, they would
be limited to stations with
- These temporary channel
assignments would be close to the station’s final
channel assignment, and limited to
- If stations are assigned a temporary channel,
they must apply for a Special Temporary Authority
broadcast on it within 90 days of
release date of the
“Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment PN.”
- Must-carry would
apply to temporary
- Inter service interference
would apply to temporary channel assignees.
- “Reasonably incurred costs of
needed to move to temporary
are eligible for
both broadcasters and multichannel TV
- Construction deadline extension
will be evaluated case by case.
- Proposals for expanded
also will be
evaluated, case by case, according to their
overall impact on the repack.
See more TV Technology coverage at our spectrum auction silo.