In September 2018, the FCC launched an experiment to assign toll free numbers through competitive bidding and announced the first-ever U.S. auction of toll free numbers. This auction will include approximately 17,000 numbers in the newly-opened 833 toll free code for which there were multiple, competing requests at the time the 833 code was opened.
In May 2019, the FCC took the next step toward making the 833 Auction a reality. In the 833 Auction Comment Public Notice, the FCC proposed and sought comment on procedures to be used in the 833 Auction, with comments due by June 3, 2019, and replies due by June 10, 2019. The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau also released a Public Notice seeking petitions to set aside numbers from the auction for use and public health and safety purposes, with petitions due by May 16, 2019.
In August 2019, the FCC released the 833 Auction Procedures Public Notice, adopting procedures to be used in the 833 Auction. The procedures adopted in the Public Notice pertain to: (1) Application requirements, including disclosures and certifications, as well as prohibitions and restrictions on applicants, which will promote auction integrity; (2) Bidding procedures, including upfront payments, bidding format and period, and payments due in case of default; and (3) Post-auction procedures, including payment deadlines and toll free number reservation requirements. The FCC also announced that bidding in the 833 Auction will occur on December 17, 2019.
The auctioneer for the 833 Auction is Somos, Inc. (Somos), which serves as the Toll Free Numbering Administrator. Somos will provide more information about the auction, accept applications to participate in the auction, and host the auction on its website’s auction portal: auction.somos.com.