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39-Month Repack Clock to Start After March 30

WASHINGTON—The assignment phase of the TV spectrum incentive auction will commence March 6 and run through March 30, which will signal the start of the TV station repack process, beginning with a public notice announcing the end of the auction.

Once this assignment-phase bidding is complete, the end of the auction will be officially announced in an Auction Closing and TV Station Reassignment Public Notice, noting all new channel assignments for displaced TV stations.

With regard to the assignment phase, forward auction bidders who won—at least one block of paired spectrum in one wireless licensing partial economic area—will vie in the assignment phase for specific frequencies in those PEAs.

The Federal Communications Commission announced the schedule in a Public Notice released today. The commission will hold one practice auction starting Wednesday, Feb. 22, and one mock auction starting Tuesday, Feb. 28. A pre-recorded, webinar-type assignment phase tutorial and a 32-page user guide was released today as well.

The assignment phase is essentially where the FCC packs wireless bidders into Chs. 38-50 according to the 416 PEAs comprising the United States and its territories. In this sense, the assignment-phase system identifies “contiguity outcome for each PEA or PEA group,” the grouping of PEAs, bidding options and a detailed schedule of assignment-phase auction rounds.

The practice auction data will become available for preview Wednesday, Feb. 22 10 a.m. Eastern, with the first practice round beginning at noon ET and comprising seven total rounds the running through Friday, Feb., 24. The mock auction preview opens Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. ET, with the first round starting at noon and comprising nine total rounds running through March 2.

Auction officials previously said they expect assignment-phase bidding to “take several weeks” given the number of PEAs—416—in which both reserved and unreserved spectrum must be assigned.

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