The last leg of the FCC's broadcast incentive auction begins March 6 with the launch of the assignment phase auction.
That is where the winning bidders of spectrum blocks in the forward auction can bid on specific frequencies. The clock phase forward auction was for generic blocks of 10 MHz—5 for uplink, five for downlink—with seven such blocks in each of the 416 partial economic areas (PEAs).
That assignment auction will last until March 30, the actual end to the auction.
The FCC knows the end date because it already knows how many rounds there will be—74—based on the number of PEAs that can be grouped together for bidding in each round.
It is expecting to hold four rounds per day, with the PEAs in highest demand assigned first.
The assignment phase is open to any bidder that won at least one paired block of spectrum in any of the 416 PEAs.
Mid-April is when the FCC will publish which stations had winning bids in the auction and what those were, what new channel assignments stations are getting, and who won spectrum in the forward auction.
Then broadcasters will be on the clock for a 39-month repack, three months to file the paperwork, 36 more to complete the move, which is happening in phases.