The actual Module itself is not slated to become available until two business days before the commitment “window” opens.
It’s “damn the stay requests (and appeals), full speed ahead” on the reverse auction front. Notwithstanding the frenzy of activity down at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Commission has issued further information underscoring its determination to close the reverse auction door as of 6:00 p.m. (ET) on March 29, 2016. And, to assist would-be auction participants, it has scheduled a workshop and prepared an online tutorial and user guide.
According to a stern public notice, anyone eligible to participate in the reverse auction will have from 10:00 a.m. (ET) on March 28 to 6:00 p.m. (ET) on March 29, 2016, to submit their “initial commitment” through the online “Initial Commitment Module”. And in case you had any doubts about how the Commission views that deadline, it provides this all-boldface admonition: “Initial commitments must be submitted prior to 6:00 pm ET on March 29, 2016. Late initial commitments will not be accepted.”
If you’re inclined to check out the Initial Commitment Module to (a) make sure that you can access it and, if you can, (b) see how it works, you won’t be able to do so until it becomes available for a “preview period”. The period will run from 10:00 a.m. on March 24 until the “Initial Commitment Window” opens on March 28. Why the Commission has chosen not to unveil its Module until two business days before the Module is supposed to go live is unclear.
While the availability of the preview opportunity may seem a bit, um, abbreviated to some (what with the closing of the Initial Commitment Window following so closely and all), never fear. The Commission has also prepared an online tutorial and a user guide, both of which are “designed to assist applicants in navigating the initial commitment module and making an initial commitment”, according to the Commission. Somewhat ominously, the FCC also notes that the user guide includes “suggested troubleshooting tips”. (This is ominous because it suggests that the FCC anticipates that there may be some troubles that will need to be shot.) Both the tutorial and the guide are supposed to be available through the FCC’s Auction 1001 webpage (click on the “Education” tab on that page) as of February 29.
And over and above those online resources, the Commission has also announced a workshop on how to make an initial commitment in the reverse auction. Scheduled for March 11, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (ET) in the Commission meeting room in Washington, it’ll be open to the public and available through online streaming, both live and recorded. If you’re interested in attending in person, you may want to register beforehand. That’s not required, but it might help speed you through the check-in process. (You can register by sending an email with your name and company to firstname.lastname@example.org; use “Initial Commitment Workshop” in the subject line.) And if you choose not to venture down to the Portals, you’ll still be able to submit questions through that same email address before, during and after the show.
While attendance at the workshop is not mandatory, the Commission “strongly encourage[s]” all would-be reverse auction participants to check it out, whether in person or online. In view of the importance of getting your commitment in before the window closes, we second that emotion.