FCC releases repack prediction tools


FCCThe FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force has made tools available so that interested parties that will help analyze multiple factors with an eye toward predicting possible channel relocations based on prevailing statutory assumptions.

IATF was careful to point out that the tools are based on preliminary assumptions and that no final decisions have been made, but added, “We believe our action today is an important step in the process of designing a successful incentive auction.”

IATF said it was making available the following:

* Updated TVStudy computer software and supporting data for determining the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television station using the methodology described in OET Bulletin 69.

* Data about Canadian and Mexican television allotments as well as domestic incumbent licensees in the broadcast television bands. These data are already publicly available, but not in a form that is easy to use for purposes of this analysis or that is limited to relevant information. In order to facilitate analysis and comment by stakeholders, we have aggregated the data in a format that can be used more easily with the updated software.

* Descriptions of how one could pre-calculate which stations could be assigned to which channels in the repacking process, and which stations cannot operate on the same channels or adjacent channels because of their geographic locations (and links to data that were developed using certain preliminary assumptions).

IATF explained, “The information described in this Public Notice and the attached Technical Appendix could be used for a number of purposes in the incentive auction. For example, during the bidding in a reverse auction this material could be used to check the feasibility of assigning channels to a given set of stations without violating any statutory or other constraints. That is, the data could be used to determine whether channels could be assigned to all broadcasters remaining on the air in a manner consistent with the applicable constraints if a given set of reverse auction bids from broadcasters were to be accepted. Such a ‘feasibility check’ could be conducted rapidly during the course of bidding in the reverse auction because it would only require determining whether a channel assignment is feasible for a set of stations, not that it represents the optimal channel assignment. Optimization analysis is time-consuming; conducting it during the course of bidding in the reverse auction would restrict the Commission’s auction design options. The same data also could be used to optimize channel assignments after the bidding is completed, however, without slowing down the bidding process. Such optimization analysis could consider, in addition to the applicable constraints, additional factors such as minimizing the number of channel changes and minimizing the estimated costs of repacking. Also, if the Commission chooses to use a sealed-bid auction design, then optimization could be used to determine which bids to accept in order to obtain a given amount of spectrum at minimum cost.”

Here is the FCC’s public release on the development:

And for technical experts, here is the location of the technical appendix: