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Blog Posts by Gary Epstein

Decision Time on the Incentive Auction

October 16, 2015 - 03:57 PM

Today wraps up an important week for the Incentive Auction with the release of two critical items: the Application Procedures Public Notice and the final opening bid prices for broadcast stations.

Earlier today Chairman Wheeler called this a “watershed moment” for auction participants, and he’s exactly right. Broadcasters and potential forward auction participants now have in their hands all of the information they will need to decide whether to participate in the auction. We have set 6 p.m. on December 18, 2015, as the date by which interested broadcasters must file their applications; forward auction bidders must file by 6 p.m. on January 28, 2016.

After years of planning and deliberations, this thing is real. The Application Procedures PN is the “How to Apply” manual for reverse and forward auction participants. It explains how to complete and submit the applications, and provides a detailed schedule of pre-auction bidder education and training events. It contains detailed attachments covering matters such as the technical details regarding the procedure for determining the spectrum clearing target, the algorithms for the reverse and forward auction bid processing determination procedure, and the bidding units for determining upfront payments and minimum opening bids in the forward auction. Concurrently with the Application Procedures PN, additional data and information related to the incentive auction, including the final interference “constraints” and the associated supporting files, have been made available on the Auction 1000 website (

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Next Steps on the Road to the Incentive Auction

August 20, 2015 - 01:56 PM

Earlier this month, the Commission adopted the Incentive Auction Bidding Procedures Public Notice, which sets March 29, 2016 as the start date of the first-ever incentive auction.  This fall, staff will release detailed information on the application process and announce the reverse auction opening bid prices.  We will then start taking applications.  Today we lay out the roadmap for these critical next steps and outline the actions that will occur after the applications are submitted.

Application Procedures Public Notice.  In early fall, we plan to release the Application Procedures Public Notice.  It will describe the nuts and bolts of the auction application process and post-auction procedures, including the opening dates for the application filing windows, the filing deadline, the schedule for mock auctions, and the information required on the auction application forms.

Opening Bid Prices – Reverse AuctionWe will publicly announce the reverse auction opening bid prices for all broadcasters no later than 60 days before the deadline for reverse auction applications established in the Application Procedures Public Notice.  The opening bid prices will be calculated using the formula already adopted by the Commission in the Bidding Procedures Public Notice, applying the final TV-to-TV constraints and interference-free population data for each station that we will also publicly release.

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International Coordination with Canada for a Successful Incentive Auction

August 14, 2015 - 12:42 PM

Today we are pleased to announce that we concluded another critical step in our efforts to harmonize our TV and wireless spectrum bands with Canada in preparation for the 2016 Incentive Auction.  This follows the similar results we reached with Mexico last month.  

FCC and Industry Canada staff have finalized a Statement of Intent (SOI) setting forth a framework and timeline for repurposing TV spectrum for mobile broadband on both sides of the border.  This came about in conjunction with Industry Canada issuing its Decision on repurposing the 600 MHz Band.

As part of the Decision, Industry Canadawill adopt the same 600 MHz Band Plan that the FCC adopted last year.  Industry Canada and the FCC will jointly repack TV stations on the same timetable.  Joint repacking will produce significantly increased benefits and a better result for both countries, making more broadband spectrum available than if each country proceeded independently.        

The SOI significantly reduces potential interference to future wireless operations in the border region. That means more “clean” spectrum to meet the growing consumer demand for mobile broadband in both countries.  By giving incentive auction participants the confidence that border markets will face less potential interference from Canadian broadcast stations, the SOI will promote more competitive bidding for licenses along the border and in turn encourage more U.S. broadcasters to participate in the auction.

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International Cooperation with Mexico for a Successful Incentive Auction

July 24, 2015 - 03:35 PM

Coordinating with Mexico and Canada to harmonize our TV and wireless spectrum bands is a critical component of meeting the Commission’s goals for the Incentive Auction. We are thrilled to be able to report some exciting progress on this front.

Last week, the Mexican communications regulator, the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT), confirmed through an exchange of technical coordination letters with the FCC that our two agencies intend to follow common guidelines for repacking TV stations that will clear 600 MHz spectrum for mobile broadband use in both countries.

Last year, Mexico announced its plan to relocate all of its television stations below channel 37, and this exchange of letters outlines the procedures by which we will work together to help advance the ongoing FCC and IFT spectrum reconfiguration process.  They also describe the procedures by which the two agencies intend to help advance both Mexico’s analog-to-digital transition and the ongoing FCC and IFT spectrum reconfiguration process. 

Taken together, these steps are another milestone on the road to a successful Incentive Auction.  Many thanks to our counterparts at IFT for their hard work and cooperate efforts to reach this point.


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Incentive Auction Progress Report

by Gary Epstein, Chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force
October 24, 2014 - 11:59 AM

When Chairman Wheeler arrived at the Commission last November, he described the incentive auction as taking a cutting edge concept to market on deadline. At that time he wrote in a blog post, “managing a complex undertaking such as this also requires an ongoing commitment to continuously and honestly assess its readiness and its project plan.”

Now is a good time to take stock of where we are and where we are going. It is also time to carefully consider and recalibrate our proposed timing for the commencement of the incentive auction.

Following the Commission’s adoption of the Report and Order in May, we have made consistent progress implementing the incentive auction. Of particular note, the Commission has followed through on commitments made in the Report and Order and initiated rule-makings to address the operations of important services affected by the incentive auction, including unlicensed white spaces devices, wireless microphones and Low Power Television.  And just last week, the Commission addressed several broadcast and wireless interference issues.

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Commission Releases Supplement to the Incentive Auction Rules Option and Discussion Paper (NPRM Appendix C)

by Gary Epstein, Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force
February 4, 2013 - 12:10 PM

Today, a Supplement to the Incentive Auction rules Option and Discussion Paper, commonly referred to as Appendix C, contained in Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Docket No. 12-268, 27 FCC Rcd 12357 (2012) was released and is available in the docket.  This Supplement, prepared by the Commission’s outside auction experts, Auctionomics and Power Auctions, provides additional details about several of the Forward Auction proposals discussed in the NPRM.  It provides additional details about several of the more novel aspects discussed in connection with the Forward Auction, including the use of intra-round bidding, managing the shifting of demand between categories of licenses and the forward auction closing rule.  

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Commission Launches New and Improved Incentive Auction LEARN Website

by Gary Epstein, Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force
January 17, 2013 - 09:51 AM

Today the FCC launched a new and improved LEARN website.

The LEARN (Learn Everything About Reverse-Auctions Now) website is a one-stop information resource for incentive auction stakeholders, particularly broadcasters.  Informing, educating, and reaching out to the broadcaster community is critical for both broadcasters who want to take advantage of the unique opportunities the incentive auction will provide and those who do not.  The new and improved LEARN website provides easy access to current, clear, concise, and accurate information designed to help broadcasters make informed business decisions about participating in the incentive auction.    

One of the many new features on the site is an 11-page summary of the broadcast incentive auction process, prepared by the Incentive Auction Task Force staff.  This FCC Staff Summary highlights the key issues considered in the broadcast incentive auction notice of proposed rulemaking. 

The Staff Summary and all of the other new informational tools on the new and improved LEARN site will help inform all stakeholders, and are just a few of the many ways the FCC is working towards a successful incentive auction.  We look forward to your feedback!

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