FCC Starting Mock Assignment Phase Auction Feb. 28

Last auction in incentive auction begins March 6
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The FCC will be holding a mock auction starting Feb. 28 (and going through March 2) for the assignment phase of its broadcast incentive spectrum auction as it prepares to wrap up that auction process. Bidding began May 31, 2016.

It held a practice auction Feb. 22.

The real assignment phase auction begins March 6, when forward auction winners can bid on individual frequencies—say, to harmonize blocks across multiple markets. So far, they have only won generic blocks of spectrum.

That auction will end March 30, meaning that mid-April will likely be the start of the 39-month transition period (three months to file for new permits for the move, then 36 months to make it) for broadcasters being repacked into new spectrum space.

That 39-month window will be triggered by the FCC's release of its final public notice on the auction, in which it will reveal which TV station owners secured winning bids and for how much—many owners have already revealed that to Wall Street and others after the FCC waived prohibited communications rules after the broadcasters' (reverse) portion of the auction was done Jan. 18. The forward portion of the auction, in which wireless companies and others bid on that broadcast spectrum, ended Feb. 10.

The FCC will also reveal in that final notice who the forward auction winners were—bidders included Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Dish and T-Mobile—and what spectrum they got.

There were 70 MHz of spectrum available in each market as seven blocks of paired 10 MHz (five uplink, five downlink) blocks. Losers in the auction will not be revealed for another two years.