[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 100 (Tuesday, May 26, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 30021-30030]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-12806]



47 CFR Parts 1, 27, and 73

[AU Docket No. 14-252; GN Docket No. 12-268; DA 15-606]

Incentive Auction Task Force Releases Initial Clearing Target 
Optimization Simulations

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: The Incentive Auction Task Force provides the results of 
several staff simulations of the initial clearing target optimization 
procedure proposed in the Auction 1000 Comment PN and/or Comment PN as 
discussed further in this under the Supplementary Information. In this 
document, the Federal Communications Commission's (Commission) 
Incentive Auction Task Force seeks comment on the data and analyses 
released in this document and the attached Appendix.

DATES: Submit comments on or before June 3, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by the docket numbers in 
this proceeding, AU Docket No. 14-252 and GN Docket No. 12-268, by any 
of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Electronic Comment 
Filing System (ECFS): http://fcc.gov/ecfs//. Follow the instructions 
for submitting comments.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail): Federal Communications Commission, 
9300 East Hampton Dr., Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service (First-class, Express, and Priority): 
Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th St. SW., Washington, DC 
     Hand-delivered/Courier: Federal Communications Commission, 
445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) for this 
document. All comments received will be posted without change to ECFS 
at http://fcc.gov/ecfs//, including any personal information provided. 
For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the ``Public Participation'' 
heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. 
Docket: This document is in AU Docket No. 14-252 and GN Docket No. 12-
268. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments 
received, go to ECFS at http://fcc.gov/ecfs//.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Madelaine Maior of the Wireless 
Telecommunications Bureau, Broadband Division, at (202) 418-1466 or 
email to [email protected].


Availability of Documents

    FCC Information relating to the Incentive Auction will be posted to 
and available on the LEARN Web site at: http://www.fcc.gov/learn. This 
document was released on May 20, 2015, and is available electronically 
at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-606A1.pdf and 
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-606A2.pdf. The 
complete text of this document as well as any comments and ex parte 
submissions will also be available for public inspection during regular 
business hours in the FCC Reference Center (CY-A257) at the Federal 
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. 
These documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft 
Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.

Public Participation

    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments on or before 
the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be 
filed using the Commission's ECFS. See Electronic Filing of Documents 
in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an 
original and one copy of each filing. If more than one active docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by commercial overnight courier, 
or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings 
must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the 
Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), or 202-
418-0432 (tty).

I. Synopsis

    1. The clearing target selection procedure proposed in the Auction 
1000 Comment PN \1\ would, inter alia, impose a nationwide cap on 
impairments.\2\ To

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conduct the simulations, the staff applied the clearing target 
selection procedure proposed in the Auction 1000 Comment PN,\3\ with 
the following exceptions reflecting the range of comments in response 
to the Comment PN. Instead of accommodating impairments up to 20 
percent, the simulations apply a standard of up to (but not equal to) 
the equivalent of one license block nationwide, as measured by weighted 
population (``weighted-pops'').\4\ The simulations also apply equal 
weighting to impairments regardless of whether they are in the uplink 
or downlink portion of the band.\5\ The data and information we release 
are illustrative only.\6\ The Commission will adopt final decisions 
regarding the proposed initial clearing target selection procedure in a 
forthcoming Auction 1000 Procedures PN.\7\

    \1\ Comment Sought on Competitive Bidding Procedures for 
Broadcast Incentive Auction 1000, Including Auctions 1001 and 1002, 
GN Docket No. 12-268, AU Docket No. 14-252, Public Notice, FCC 14-
191, 29 FCC Rcd 15750 (Dec. 17, 2014) (``Auction 1000 Comment PN'' 
or ``Comment PN'').
    \2\ Impairments are the result of assigning TV stations to 
channels in the 600 MHz Band in order to accommodate market 
variation. Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of 
Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, GN Docket No. 12-268, Report 
and Order, 29 FCC Rcd 6567, 6604-6607, paras. 81-87 (2014) 
(``Incentive Auction R&O''). See Expanding the Economic and 
Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, GN 
Docket No. 12-268, Second Report and Order and Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, 29 FCC Rcd 13071 (2014) (adopting methodology 
for use during the incentive auction to predict inter-service 
interference between impairing TV stations and licensed wireless 
services in the 600 MHz Band).
    \3\ Auction 1000 Comment PN, 29 FCC Rcd at 15762-69, paras. 27-
    \4\ ``Weighted-pops'' refers to the proposed approach of 
weighting the population in a given PEA based on an index of area-
specific prices from prior auctions and counting population in each 
block in the PEA. See id., 29 FCC Rcd at 15766-67, para. 38, 15803, 
paras. 162-63. The standard applied in the simulations would allow 
impairments at a smaller percentage of impaired weighted-pops at 
higher clearing targets and a larger percentage of impaired 
weighted-pops at lower clearing targets. We note that ``the 
equivalent of one block nationwide'' does not mean that one block 
would be impaired in each market, but rather that the total number 
of impaired weighted-pops cannot exceed the equivalent weighted-pops 
of one block nationwide in the aggregate. For example, under the 
clearing targets and associated band plans adopted in the Incentive 
Auction R&O, the equivalent of one block under an 84 megahertz 
clearing target would be approximately 14 percent of total weighted-
pops nationwide, the equivalent of one block under a 114 megahertz 
clearing target would be approximately 11 percent, and the 
equivalent of one block under a 126 megahertz clearing target would 
be 10 percent.
    \5\ This variation from the Comment PN eliminates the proposed 
weighting on impairments in the downlink band, under which a 
downlink impairment would be counted as impairing the corresponding 
uplink band, but an uplink impairment would not be counted as 
impairing the corresponding downlink band. Auction 1000 Comment PN, 
29 FCC Rcd at 15762, para. 29. We also note that the simulations 
apply a 10 percent standard for treating a county's entire 
population as impaired for the purposes of applying the primary 
objective; the Comment PN proposed a range between 10 and 20 
percent. See id.
    \6\ See Incentive Auction Task Force Releases Updated Constraint 
File Data Using Actual Channels and Staff Analysis Regarding 
Pairwise Approach to Preserving Population Served, GN Docket No. 12-
268, ET Docket No. 13-26, Public Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 5687, 5687 (June 
2, 2014) (``Aggregate Interference PN'').
    \7\ Auction 1000 Comment PN, 29 FCC Rcd at 15753-54, para. 7.

    2. In order to conduct the simulations released with this document, 
the staff had to make certain assumptions about protection of foreign 
TV stations. With respect to Canada, the simulations assume for 
illustrative purposes only that the Commission will not need to protect 
vacant allotments in Canada's TV bands, an option put forth in Industry 
Canada's Consultation on Repurposing the 600 MHz Band proceeding.\8\ 
Mexico has not yet put forward any public plans for repurposing the 600 
MHz Band; as a result, for purposes of these simulations all Mexican 
allotments are protected.\9\ Due to insufficient data at this time, the 
simulations do not reflect any interference from Mexican TV stations 
into the United States.\10\

    \8\ We emphasize that this proposal remains pending and has not 
been adopted by Industry Canada. We also note that, although 
Canada's Consultation indicates it is considering pursuing a joint 
repacking plan with the United States, for purposes of the 
simulations we do not assume a joint repacking plan. See 
Consultation on Repurposing the 600 MHz Band, Spectrum Management 
and Telecommunications, Industry Canada, SLPB-005-14, para. 41 (rel. 
December 18, 2014), http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10891.html (``Consultation on Repurposing the 600 MHz Band'').
    \9\ See Incentive Auction R&O, 29 FCC Rcd at 6677-80, paras. 
    \10\ We anticipate the Commission will have the data necessary 
to make these calculations in advance of the incentive auction, 
however. We note that including the predicted interference from 
Mexican stations would increase the impairment level in each of the 
scenarios. The simulations do reflect predicted interference from 
Canadian TV stations into the United States.

    3. The simulations released with this document reflect three 
different illustrative broadcaster participation scenarios: (1) 
Participation by between 40 and 50 percent of broadcast stations; (2) 
participation between 50 and 60 percent; and (3) participation between 
60 and 70 percent. We emphasize that these simulations model only the 
number of spectrum blocks that would be available under various initial 
clearing targets that would be feasible based on broadcaster 
participation in the auction. The simulations reflect no assumptions 
about auction outcomes in terms of which reverse auction participants 
would be selected as winning bidders, the winning bid amounts, the 
total proceeds of the forward auction, or whether the Commission would 
be able to close the auction at the initial clearing target.
    4. For each of the three broadcaster participation scenarios, the 
Appendix provides information on the number of spectrum blocks that 
would be offered in the forward auction in each proposed license 
category (including totals nationwide, in the high-demand markets,\11\ 
and by Partial Economic Area or ``PEA''), and the same breakdown 
showing the total weighted-pops for the licenses in each category. 
Under each scenario, the Appendix also shows results based on two 
approaches to assigning impairing stations to the 600 MHz Band: (1) The 
approach proposed in the Comment PN, under which the optimization 
software assigns stations within the 600 MHz Band so as to minimize 
impaired weighted-pops; and (2) an alternative approach that minimizes 
impaired weighted-pops but restricts the software from assigning 
stations to channels that could impair the duplex gap.\12\

    \11\ ``High-demand markets'' is defined as the 40 largest PEAs 
by population. Auction 1000 Comment PN, 29 FCC Rcd at 15770, para. 
51. These markets are considered high demand because the geographic 
areas they cover have usually generated the highest average prices 
per MHz-pop in prior spectrum license auctions and accounted for a 
substantial fraction of total auction revenues. Id.
    \12\ Auction 1000 Comment PN, 29 FCC Rcd at 15765-66, paras. 35-
36. The Appendix refers to (1) as ``protecting the duplex gap'' and 
the alternative approach as ``not protecting the duplex gap.''

    5. The simulations indicate that the procedure proposed in the 
Comment PN for setting the initial clearing target, with the 
modifications described above, results in the selection of an initial 
clearing target of 84 megahertz in a scenario where 40 to 50 percent of 
broadcasters participate in the reverse auction (Scenario 1); an 
initial clearing target of 114 megahertz in a scenario where 50 to 60 
percent participate (Scenario 2); and an initial clearing target of 126 
megahertz in a scenario where 60 to 70 percent participate (Scenario 
3). Under each scenario, the vast majority of the licenses offered in 
the band plan associated with eachclearing target are Category 1 
licenses.\13\ In Scenario 1, of the 2,842 possible

    \13\ In each of the simulations, at least 93.4 percent of 
licenses are Category 1 licenses, and Category 2 licenses comprise 
at most 1.3 percent of total possible licenses. Under the Comment PN 
proposal, ``Category 1'' licenses are licenses that contain 
impairments affecting between zero and 15 percent of the population 
in a PEA, ``Category 2'' licenses are licenses that contain 
impairments affecting greater than 15 percent but less than or equal 
to 50 percent of the population, and licenses with impairments 
affecting more than 50 percent of the population would not be 
offered in the auction. See Auction 1000 Comment PN, 29 FCC Rcd at 
15797-98, paras. 145-46.


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licenses,\14\ only 46 are Category 2 licenses. For Scenario 2, of the 
3,654 possible licenses, only 50 are Category 2 licenses. And for 
Scenario 3, of the 4,060 possible licenses, only 48 are Category 2 
licenses. In all three scenarios, 88 to 93 percent of the licenses in 
the high-demand markets are Category 1 licenses and 84 to 88 percent of 
PEAs contain only Category 1 licenses.\15\ The results also reflect 
that, in lower broadcaster participation scenarios, excluding stations 
altogether from the duplex gap would increase the number of Category 2 
licenses and heavily impaired licenses that the Commission proposed not 
to offer in the incentive auction.\16\

    \14\ We note that for purposes of this impairment analysis, the 
total number of licenses analyzed at each clearing target level 
includes only those licenses that could be offered in the 
continental United States.
    \15\ For example, out of 406 PEAs, all but 62 will have only 
Category 1 licenses in the 84 megahertz initial clearing target 
scenario. The same is true for all but 53 in the 114 megahertz 
scenario and all but 47 in the 126 megahertz scenario. The total 
number of PEAs is 416, but the simulations results evaluate only 
impairments that affect the 406 PEAs in the continental United 
States. See generally Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Provides 
Details About Partial Economic Areas, GN Docket No. 12-268, Public 
Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 6491 (June 2, 2014). Further, under this 
scenario, of the 2,654 Category 1 licenses, 2,535 are entirely free 
of impairments (i.e. zero percent of the weighted-pops in the PEA 
are impaired). In Scenario 2, of the 3,469 Category 1 licenses, 
3,334 are entirely free of impairments and in Scenario 3, of the 
3,886 Category 1 licenses, 3,753 are entirely free of impairments. 
Once again, these totals reflect only those licenses that would be 
offered in the continental U.S. that are subject to impairments.
    \16\ In addition, the simulation results reflect that protecting 
the duplex gap at lower participation scenarios would result in the 
selection of lower clearing targets.

II. Procedural Matters

    6. This document is being issued pursuant to sections 0.31, 0.51, 
0.61, and 0.131 of the Commission's rules by the Wireless 
Telecommunications Bureau and the Incentive Auction Task Force.\17\

    \17\ 47 CFR 0.31, 0.51, 0.61, 0.131.

A. Ex Parte Rules--Permit-But-Disclose Proceeding

    7. Pursuant to Sec.  1.1200(a) of the Commission's rules, this 
matter shall be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in 
accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex 
parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a 
memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days 
after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the 
Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations 
are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list 
all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at 
which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data 
presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the 
presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data 
or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, 
memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide 
citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, 
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or 
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of 
summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to 
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex 
parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule Sec.  
1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule Sec.  1.49(f) or for which 
the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, 
written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte 
presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the 
electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and 
must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, 
searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize 
themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

B. Paperwork Reduction Analysis

    8. This document does not change, or propose to change, the 
information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (``PRA''), Public Law 104-13, contained in the Incentive 
Auction R&O.\18\ As a result, no new submission to the Office of 
Management and Budget is necessary to comply with the PRA requirements. 
In addition, it does not contain any new or modified ``information 
collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 
employees,'' pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 
2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

    \18\ See Incentive Auction R&O, 29 FCC Rcd at 6893, paras. 808-

C. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    9. The actions in this document have not changed, or proposed to 
change, the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (``FRFA''), which was 
set forth in the Incentive Auction R&O.\19\ Thus, no supplemental FRFA 
is necessary.

    \19\ See Incentive Auction R&O, 29 FCC Rcd at 6893, para. 807.

Federal Communications Commission.
Roger Sherman,
Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

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[FR Doc. 2015-12806 Filed 5-22-15; 8:45 am]