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eBay to Take Over Spectrum Auctions

It’s official!! The FCC has eloped with Internet auction giant eBay, forming a “strategic partnership” under which eBay will run all the Commission’s spectrum auctions. Citing “multiple significant synergistic” benefits, the FCC has turned its auction chores over to eBay, lock, stock and barrel: not only will eBay handle the bidding process, but it will also collect all payments through its PayPal system and even provide pre-auction screening of bidders through its established “feedback” system.

By relieving itself of the considerable administrative headaches of auctioneering, the Commission will now be able to devote more of its scarce resources to developing important spectrum management policies, such as increased monitoring of the completeness of broadcasters’ public inspection files and protecting the public from the all-too-occasional “fleeting expletive”.

In return for pulling the laboring oar in all spectrum auctions, eBay will receive a 20% commission on all auction proceeds collected. Additionally, it has been awarded naming rights to the Commission’s headquarters building (formerly known as “The Portals”) in Washington, D.C. 

According to the Commission, no current FCC staff positions will be terminated as a result of the eBay partnership. The existing staff of the Auctions and Spectrum Access Division of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau – the folks who have historically handled FCC auction details – will help out with the transition of auction duties to eBay. After that, they’ll use their transitioning skills to help with the DTV Transition, staffing phone banks at the FCC’s Call-In Center and assisting in the installation of digital converter boxes and appropriate rabbit ear antennas. When the DTV Transition has been completed (projected date: 2015!!!), remaining FCC staff members will be assigned to serve on Skype Customer Support lines. Skype is an Internet-based telephone service owned by eBay. (Another benefit of the “strategic partnership”: selected FCC users will get a 0.5% bulk discount on Skype service!)

Some adjustments to the auction process will be necessary. For example, in order to accommodate the 20% commission due to eBay, the Commission will no longer permit the use of “bidding credits”, which have historically reduced the proceeds actually realized by the Commission from spectrum sales. Along the same lines, any bidder who has received two or more “negative” feedback comments in any eBay auction during the 10 years prior to an FCC auction will be subject to a 10% surcharge if it is the successful bidder.


Happy April Fool’s Day!!!