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CTIA Wants FCC to Hold More Mock Auctions

The FCC has proposed holding at least one mock auction for both the forward and reverse auctions before it launches the real thing, but wireless companies want more mock auctions and plenty of data in time to make decisions.

In a letter to Gary Epstein and Howard Symons, chair and vice chair respectively of the FCC's Incentive Auction Task Force, CTIA: The Wireless Association, said the FCC should hold multiple mock auctions in the lead-up to the March 29 launch of the auction to help participants get comfortable with the "first of its kind" auction. CTIA wants the first mock auction (both forward and reverse) to be held by the end of January, then another a month later and a final mock auction within a week of the auction.

They want to be able to test the software and get a gander at the types of data for forward auction participants, presumably wireless companies though anyone can bid.

CTIA said multiple auctions could provide "all auction participants comfort with the functioning of the incentive auction software, the data being provided to bidders, and their ability to fully understand the data to make informed bidding decisions."

In a blog post last week, Epstein and Symons signaled plans for the mock forward and reverse auctions, but their suggestion that it would come fairly late in the process did not sit well with CTIA.

"Such late timing will make it impossible for bidders to suggest changes if there are problems with the underlying auction software, and will leave insufficient time for bidders to configure their software to the exact parameters," CTIA said.

Before that first late January mock auction, CTIA wants the FCC to provide: 

"File formats, data dictionaries and data structure for all bidding round reports available for download (e.g. bid results, demand counts by category of PEA, overall reports on auction proceeds) as well as expected formats for bidder uploads." CTIA said it understands they would be subject to change, but said an advance look would be very helpful.

CTIA says a "soft launch" through mock auctions and associated data drops is important to give "the assurances needed that the software and data is accurate and understandable."