feds favor “feasibility” over “optimization” in determining where displaced TV
will go after the 2015 spectrum incentive auction. The commission is arguing
for using a feasibility check rather than optimization to save time during the
reverse auction, when broadcasters essentially name their price going in.
It could be “conducted rapidly during the course of bidding… because it would
only require determining whether a channel assignment is feasible for a set of
stations,” according to a Public
from the Federal Communications Commission’s Incentive Auction Task
Force released Jan. 9. “Optimization analysis is time-consuming; conducting it
during the course of bidding in the reverse auction would restrict the
commission’s auction design options.”
The feasibility data could be used to optimize channel reassignments after
bidding, the commission said.
“Also, if the commission chooses to use a sealed-bid
auction design, then optimization could be used to determine which bids to
accept in order to obtain a given amount of spectrum at minimum cost,” the
The Task Force did not release any computer code, but rather “methodological
information” outlining two approaches to the feasibility check.
“We have been investigating various classes of mathematical software, or ‘solvers,’
capable of determining whether or not a feasible assignment exists given the
applicable constraints,” the Notice stated. “We have focused our investigation
on two different types of solvers in particular: Satisfiability solvers and
integer optimization solvers.”
Satisfiability derives feasibility from Boolean variables. Integer optimization
is focused on allocating limited resources in the most efficient way possible
using assigned discrete values. The commission said that “preliminary
investigations” indicate that either method could yield a result in less than
“Thus, it appears that the use of feasibility checking would be compatible with
a multiple round auction format because it can compute answers quickly enough
to allow multiple rounds of an auction to take place in a reasonable amount of
time,” the Notice said.
The Incentive Auction Task Force intends to host a
Workshop/Webinar on the feasibility method in February. It will also provide
an update to the commission during its regular monthly meeting on Jan. 30.
The full commission will make final decisions on the repacking process.