How is an Auction Conducted?

Depending on the auction design, number of bidders, and the number of licenses being offered, an auction might run anywhere from one day to several weeks. Auctions are typically conducted Monday through Friday during normal business hours (Eastern Time). The first day of an auction generally opens with long bidding periods, typically two bidding rounds lasting one or two hours each, followed by round results. As the auction continues, the Commission generally increases the number of rounds per day and decreases the duration of the rounds. Bidders drop out of the auction when licenses in which they are interested exceed the value they are willing to pay. The auction typically continues until all bidding activity stops.

Activity Rules

In a traditional real-time or continuous auction, bidders often wait until the last minute to place their bids. However, the FCC has developed activity rules to ensure that participants bid actively throughout the auction. Before an auction, each bidder must submit an upfront payment that determines its bidding eligibility in the auction. During each round of the auction, each bidder is required to bid on a specified portion of its maximum eligibility. If a bidder does not meet this requirement, it uses an activity rule waiver (if available) or loses eligibility.

Round Results

Round results are released within approximately 5-10 minutes after each round closes. They are available for downloading, both to bidders and to the general public. Interested parties may perform detailed analysis by loading these data files into a spreadsheet program.


At the conclusion of the auction, the Commission issues a public notice declaring the auction closed, identifying winning bidders, and specifying the amounts of down payments due. At that time, winning bidders are typically given ten business days to supplement their upfront payments to satisfy the license down payment requirement. By the same deadline, winning bidders must electronically submit a properly completed long-form application and required exhibits to the appropriate licensing bureau.


Wednesday, August 9, 2006