FCC releases samples of file formats to be provided to reverse auction participants during auction.

In case we were all figuring that the reverse auction was going to be a walk in the park, the FCC has given us a glimpse of Reverse Auction Future by posting the “reverse auction file format specifications” that will be available to auction participants (and updated constantly) throughout the auction. As the auction progresses from round to round, the Commission will post each participating licensee’s data for that licensee’s review only. That, ideally, will help each participant in its bidding strategies.

The trouble is that the materials that the FCC has posted may be a bit difficult for the uninitiated to comprehend, at least in the abstract. Because of that, anyone planning to participate in the reverse auction should probably start now to get familiar with the data that will be available once the fun begins. The place to start on that will be to take a close look at this guide to the data. It walks the reader through each of the data files that will be posted and updated as the auction progresses, with explanations of the various data points included in those files (and trust us, there are more data points than we expected).

Once you’ve got a handle on that, you can then take a look at a sample of each of the data files that will be available. To get to those samples, go to this page on the FCC website and click on the “Reverse Auction Sample Data Files” link there. You should then see a message allowing you to open a .ZIP file that contains five separate CSV files. (They can be opened in various spreadsheet programs, like Excel.) The samples are populated with fictitious data for illustrative purposes only. As the Commission emphasizes, these data “do not reflect any predictions or assumptions about the actual bidding in the auction, the number of rounds, or the outcome of the auction”.

The important message here: the reverse auction is coming. Now is the time to start getting ready for it.