FCC Releases Real-time Component of Repacking Software

WASHINGTON—A crucial component of the software for repacking TV stations after the spectrum incentive auction has been released by the Federal Communications Commission’s Incentive Auction Task Force. The constraint generator software comes up with “pairwise” files that predict interference between stations.

This constraint generator, in conjunction with feasibility-checking software, evaluates—within seconds—which channels preserve a station’s signal coverage as the surrounding spectrum is offered up in the reverse auction.

“This approach determines whether there exists at least one feasible channel assignment for a given set of stations using pairwise interference constraint files,” the Task Force said in a Public Notice.

The PN emphasized that today’s software release has not been finalized for the auction. The full commission will approve the final version at a later date.

“Our goal in releasing this software is to allow interested parties to validate data previously released by the staff and to simulate their own repacking scenarios,” the PN said, adding that mastery by potential participants is not necessary.

The PN urged outside engineers to test drive the software.

“Using the feasibility checker, released as open-source software by an outside software development team, interested parties can then use the constraint files outputted from the constraint generator to
perform feasibility checks in a manner similar to the approach the commission adopted to evaluate feasibility during the real-time reverse auction.”

June 5, 2014,
FCC Examines Repacking Station Interference Issues”
While there are still some serious questions surrounding the incentive auction (such as whether the industry can make all the required channel changes within the 36 months allotted, and how well the TVStudy parameters will work), I have to give the FCC staff credit for taking the effort to make sure broadcasters that don't choose to participate in the auction are protected.

August 20, 2013, “
TVStudy Update No. 3 Does Cross-Border Analysis”
Vers. 1.2.7 is said to be able to perform cross-border channel analysis of TV signal interference between stations in the United States and those in Canada and Mexico “on proxy channels.”

July 22, 2013,FCC Releases Channel Repack Analysis, Updated OET-69 Software.”
The user interface was updated, as well as the software’s ability to generate “pairwise” interference data files. These pairwise files are described as “yes-or-no determinations of whether interference is predicted from one television station to another at a particular location,” according to the Appendix. The criterion used to make these determinations is reception by “the same specific viewers for each eligible station.”