Auction 108 - What information is provided? What information do you need? April 2, 2022 23:00

A little over a week ago, the FCC announced that Auction 108, for the unlicensed EBS spectrum, will begin on July 29th.  With this announcement the FCC also provided an updated auction inventory and a mapping tool that highlights where the spectrum is already licensed.  With this post we will look at the information that the FCC has provided and highlight the information that is actually needed by auction participants.  

 FCC Auction Inventory:

The FCC Auction inventory provides a listing of the auction channels (C1, C2, and C3) that are available in each county.  As you can see in the table below for Shelby AL, they list the full bandwidth with the full county population for each channel.  In our EBS Auction Opportunities Tool, we have determined the whitespace area and the population in the whitespace area for each auction subchannel.  An auction subchannel is one of the existing licensed channels that combined with other subchannels to make each auction channel. 

In our Population View Excel workbook, the available population for each subchannel is provided.  For the first auction channel (C1) in Shelby AL, 103,306 people are in the whitespace area for each of the first 6 subchannels, not the county wide population values the FCC provides.  More importantly, the FCC doesn't provide the primary valuation metric (MHz-POPs) for any of these licenses.  On the far right of our Population View table, the MHz-POPs (3,409,098) can be seen.  The MHz-POPs is the sum of each subchannel's population times the bandwidth (MHz) of that subchannel.

In our Population % View Excel workbook, the available population is shown as a percentage of the total county population.  As you can see, the available whitespace areas for the C1 channel in Shelby AL represents 53% of the county population.

EBS Auction Tool:  Population View:

EBS Auction Tool:  Population % View:

FCC Mapping Application:

If MHz-POPs is the most important datapoint on an available license, an understanding of the available whitespace geographical area would be the second most important datapoint.  In its mapping tool, the FCC provides a view not of the available whitespace area, but a map with the license encumbrances.  I found this to be a very confusing way to look at both the licensing data and the whitespace data.  I think it is easier to understand what is going on in the FCC map below if you look at it with an eye on our Population % table, above.  FCC map indicates that all 9 channels of the C1 auction channel are encumbered in northern Shelby AL.  Our data agrees because 47% of the population is already licensed for the A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, and B3 channels and 100% of the population is already licensed for the C1, C2, and C3 channels.  Looking at the green area in the south, only three channels are encumbered, which are the C1, C2, and C3 channels.

 FCC Mapping Application - Statistics

Additional statistics can be accessed from the FCC Mapping application as you click on each of the county areas.  Below we have clicked on the green area that is encumbered by 3 channels.  Strangely, the only additional statistics that the FCC provides are the total square miles of the county, the square miles in the selected encumbered area, and the relative percentage of total square miles this represents.  I know how carriers would utilize whitespace population to analyze the business opportunities in each county, but I not sure how the available square miles can guide business decisions.

 EBS Auction Opportunities Mapping:

Our EBS Auction Opportunities Tool includes the two Excel workbooks we discussed above and access to our Web Spectrum Viewer mapping tool to investigate each subchannels whitespace area.  From the Population % screen below, we will continue our example on Shelby AL.  For the B1 channel, you can see that 52% of the population is in the whitespace area.  Clicking on that cell will open a map view showing the county outlines for Shelby AL and the whitespace area in yellow.  In the detailed view, we have zoomed in to reveal the cities, communities, and recreation areas that are in the whitespace area.  This whitespace map indicates the area where you can launch a network using the 5.5MHz B1 channel.  If the whitespace areas are identical for A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, and B3 channels, the auction winner would be able to utilize 33MHz of combined spectrum over the southern Shelby AL area.

Web Spectrum Viewer - EBS Auction Mapping:
Web Spectrum Viewer - EBS Auction Mapping (Detailed):