Getting your scorecard for Auction 93 ready so you can follow the action once the bidding starts in less than two weeks? The Commission has identified the applicants –109 in all – who will have seats at the table when the action gets going. At the same time, the Commission has laid out the final ground rules that will govern both the auction and everybody who filed an application, whether or not they actually opt to participate in the auction.

As we reported last month, a total of 145 applications were initially filed by would-be bidders. Thirty-four of those didn’t make the first cut (either incomplete or rejected outright). And now, with the second cut, the field is down to 109. The precise reasons for the attrition haven’t been disclosed, but it’s a fact of auction life that potential bidders, even if their applications are accepted, are not qualified to bid if they fail to wire an upfront payment to the FCC.

The range of upfront payments ran from over $100,000 (ponied up by six different applicants) to a meager $750. The highest single upfront payment came to $350,000, but half of all upfront payments came in at less than $10K – and more than a dozen of those were less than $1,000. (The amount of an upfront payment does not limit the dollar amount of a participant’s eventual, bid but it does limit the market or markets where they can participate.)

When the auction kicks off on March 27, the Commission plans to conduct four bidding rounds a day, at two hour intervals. If you’re planning to bid but feel a little rusty on the practical details, there’s going to be a mock auction on March 23rd. 

One last, very important detail. The FCC spends three pages of its 11- page announcement reminding participants that anti-collusion rules are in effect and that applicants should not be discussing the auction with one another. “Applicants” here means anybody who filed an application for Auction 93, regardless of whether they ultimately qualified to bid or actually bid at all. The gag rule gets lifted once the post-auction down payment deadline has come and gone.