With just 12 days to go before Auction 94 is set to kick off, the FCC has identified the 85 bidders who have qualified to participate in this year’s FM Construction Permit Sell-a-Thon. 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 previously reported, the FCC initially received 109 applications, but, as so often happens, the herd got thinned along the way: two dozen applicants have dropped out of the running and will only be watching from the sidelines when the action cranks up on April 23, 2013.

In order to assure their place in the race, each of the 85 surviving bidders ponied up upfront payments ranging from a paltry $750 to a considerably more robust $250,000+. Upfront payments establish a bidder’s initial eligibility for the auction and the permit(s) which each bidder may bid for. When the bidding starts, however, nothing – other than common sense and financial ability – limits the amount(s) that can be bid.

By the way, if your name shows up in the FCC’s list of 85 qualified bidders but you have not yet received your official “registration mailing” by April 17, 2013 at 12 noon (ET), you should contact the Auctions Hotline directly at (717) 338-2868.

Once the auction gets going, the Commission plans to conduct four bidding rounds a day at two-hour intervals. If you’re planning to bid but are feeling a little rusty on the practical details, the FCC will be conducting a mock auction on Friday, April 19. (The mock auction will be open only to qualified bidders. If you’re one of them and you want to use the mock auction to brush up on your skills, you’ll be able to access the mock auction at either http://auctions.fcc.gov or http://auctions2.fcc.gov. The Commission also recommends that bidders take a good gander at the Integrated Spectrum Auction System (ISAS) Bidder’s Guide included with the auction materials the FCC has already provided.

Other routine turf covered in the FCC’s public notice: (1) the standard reminder that winning bidders will be expected to pay for their licenses within a few days after close of the auction; (2) a similarly standard reminder that bidders must keep their applications up to date throughout the auction; and (3) a stern (but no less equally standard) reminder that the FCC’s strict anti-collusion rules remain in effect. The anti-collusion rules prohibit applicants from discussing the auction with one another. “Applicants” here means anybody who filed an application for the auction, 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.)