Q: When will the auction take place and when do I need to apply to participate?
The registration and application window open on Monday, October 7, 2019, at 12 noon Eastern Time (ET). It closes on Friday, October 18, 2019, promptly at 6:00 p.m. ET. Applications will not be accepted after the window closes. The auction will take place on December 17, 2019. Opening and closing times for the auction will be announced to qualified bidders at least one week before the auction.
Q: How and where do we register?
Starting on October 7, 2019, at 12 noon ET, you can start the registration process by clicking on the Participate in the Auction link at the top of this page or in the Information section.
Q: How can I participate?
The FCC’s 833 Auction Procedures Public Notice provides details on how individuals and companies will be able to participate and what information they will need to provide in their auction application. The 833 Auction instructions and tutorials on this site will also give you information on filling out your registration and application. If you do not wish to participate in the auction directly, you also have the option to participate through certain Responsible Organizations (Resp Orgs).
Q: How is an applicant’s identification verified?
We are using a third-party service to verify the information in your registration. If the service is unable to verify your information, we will manually verify the information, which may include Somos reaching out to you.
Q: Are Social Security Numbers required for registration or on the application?
No. We ask that you do not put your Social Security Number anywhere in the registration or application. We are asking businesses for their Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Q: What type of "Applicant Type" will 501c3 organizations file under?
It depends on how your organization has been set up. If it is incorporated, use either the Corporate or Limited Liability Company designation, whichever is closest. If it is a partnership, use either the General Partnership or Limited Partnership designation. If there is no applicant type that really fits, use the Other designation.
Q: Can we act as an agent for our clients directing them where to submit?
Yes. You can help your clients complete their own applications.
Q: What is a Resp Org, and do I need one?
A Resp Org is, by FCC rule, the entity that manages a toll free number for the subscriber. Resp Orgs are the only entities that can provide the necessary routing information to make a toll free number work. A potential subscriber can participate directly in the auction or indirectly through a Resp Org. After the auction, a winning bidder that did not bid through a Resp Org must identify one that it will use to manage its toll free number. To find a Resp Org, please go to the Somos website under Find a Service Provider.
Q: What is the benefit of using a Resp Org? Describe reason for using a Resp Org before or after bidding. What does it cost to use a Resp Org?
You have the choice of whether to use a Resp Org to bid in the auction or not. Resp Orgs are agents for the toll free subscribers, per the FCC rules. If you decide to participate through a Resp Org, the Resp Org will be the one responsible for completing the application, and it must disclose each of the potential subscribers on whose behalf it will be bidding.
If you decide to participate in the auction directly, you must submit your application and bid on the numbers in which you are interested. If you are a winning bidder, you must choose a Resp Org to manage your toll free number within 15 business days of the announcement of the winning bids. You cannot put the toll free number in service or sell it to another party until you have chosen a Resp Org. Once you have chosen a Resp Org, it will submit a Letter of Authorization on your behalf to Somos memorializing the new relationship.
Costs vary from Resp Org to Resp Org. To find a Resp Org, please go to the Somos website under Find a Service Provider.
Q:What are the requirements for a Resp Org that is not an applicant in the 833 Auction but assists its clients with their auction applications?
The requirements applicable to such a Resp Org will depend on the nature of its relationship with the applicant and the extent of its involvement with the client’s participation in the application and the auction process. At a minimum, Resp Orgs providing guidance to an 833 Auction applicant must adhere to the same requirements as any other consultant, advisor, or attorney for an auction applicant.
Every auction applicant must disclose the real party or parties in interest in the applicant and in the application. Applicants must also disclose in their application any auction-related agreement (regardless of whether the agreement is in writing) to which they are a party. If the nature of an agreement between an applicant and a party is such that it renders the party to the agreement a real party in interest of the applicant, that party must be disclosed as such in the application.
Applicants and their consultants must take appropriate steps to ensure that the consultant does not become a conduit for prohibited communications to other parties, as that would violate the prohibited communications rule. An individual employed by a Resp Org that is acting as consultant to an applicant cannot serve as an authorized bidder for more than one applicant. Within a third-party firm serving as an auction consultant or advisor to an applicant, separate individual employees may advise individual applicants on bids or bidding strategies, as long as such firms implement firewalls and other compliance procedures that prevent such individuals from communicating the bids or bidding strategies of one applicant to other individuals representing separate applicants.
Q: I provide toll free services, but I obtain my toll free numbers from one of the Resp Orgs on the Somos list. My ID with this provider is 3 letters and 2 numbers: LLLNN. Am I considered a Resp Org for this auction?
No. For the purpose of designating yourself as a Resp Org for this auction, you must be a Resp Org with a unique two-digit entity ID in the TFN Registry. If you don’t know if you are a Resp Org, please contact the Help Desk at 844-439-7666 or email@example.com.
Q: Is a Resp Org an "FCC regulated entity" that must be disclosed in the auction application?
Because the FCC rules define Resp orgs and set forth certain responsibilities, Resp Orgs are considered “FCC regulated entities” for purposes of the toll free number auction and must be disclosed in the auction application.
Q: What information should the Direct Ownership attachment and the Indirect Ownership attachment contain?
In your auction application, you must disclose any person or entity that directly or indirectly holds 10 percent or greater interest in the applicant. You must enter certain information about the individual or entity in the required fields in the form and must supplement that information by providing a narrative in an attachment that fully explains the relationship between the applicant and its owners. It may be helpful to include diagrams if the ownership structure is complicated.
Q: Are there any foreign ownership restrictions on toll free number subscribers?
TOLL FREE NUMBER SELECTION/ BIDDING ON BEHALF OF OTHERS
Q: Are all 833 numbers available in the auction?
No. Only numbers that were set aside by the FCC are available for bidding. For a list of available 833 numbers, click here.
Q: Is there any downside to selecting the entire list of 17k numbers as possible biddable numbers?
In your auction application you must select any toll free number (from the list of available 833 numbers) on which you may wish to place a bid during the auction. You must also identify, for each number selected, the party (either yourself or another entity) on whose behalf you will be bidding. Designating the specific toll free numbers that you are interested in, instead of the entire list, will make it easier for you to complete your bid sheet. Also, your bidding eligibility (i.e., how many toll free numbers on which you can bid) will be determined by the amount of upfront payment you provide.
Q: If I am a Resp Org but bidding for toll free numbers on my own behalf (i.e., not for any potential subscriber), do I have to specify myself in the "bidding on behalf of" section?
Yes. For each toll free number that you will be bidding on behalf of yourself, you must specify “self” in the “Behalf Entity” column in your bid file.
Q: At what point must I disclose on whose behalf I am bidding?
You must disclose on whose behalf you are bidding in your application. This information cannot be changed once the application is submitted.
Q: What if the party I’m bidding on behalf of decides after the application period that they no longer want to bid. Am I required to make a bid?
You are not required to make a bid on every number identified in your application. However, you are only allowed to bid on numbers listed in your application. Also, after the initial application window, you cannot change the entity on whose behalf you are bidding.
Q: Who is responsible for paying, the applicant or the entity you are bidding on behalf of?
The applicant is responsible for payment. It is the applicant’s responsibility to have an arrangement with the entities that you are bidding on behalf of for reimbursement.
Q: What are additional exhibits? Can you give examples?
Additional exhibits are not required; however, they allow you an opportunity to include any information in your application that has not been otherwise required in the form. For example, if you wish to request a waiver or confidential treatment, you can do so by attaching the request as an additional exhibit. If you are requesting confidential treatment of any part of your application, you must not only include the request as an additional exhibit, but you must also submit the request to both firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Another example of an additional exhibit would be if you would like to provide additional information on the additional parties in interest disclosed in the form.
Q: What is an upfront payment and how does it work?
An upfront payment determines how many numbers you can bid on in the auction. The FCC has set the upfront payment amount as $100 per toll free number. Your upfront payment determines your bidding eligibility. For example, if you want to bid on a maximum of 15 numbers, your upfront payment must be 15 x $100, or $1,500. (You always have the option to bid less than your bidding eligibility, but you cannot bid more.) Once the auction concludes, if the total of your winning bids is less than your upfront payment, any remaining amount will be refunded to you, minus any default payments that you may owe. Similarly, if a bidder does not have any winning bids, it will be reimbursed the entirety of its upfront payment. Upfront payments will be due on November 27, 2019.
Q: If you bid on toll free Numbers, but are not the winning bidder, will the upfront payment amount be refunded?
Yes. If a bidder’s winning bids total less than its upfront payment, any remaining amount will be refunded to the bidder, minus any default payments that the bidder may owe. Similarly, if a bidder does not have any winning bids, it will be reimbursed the entirety of its upfront payment.
Q: When I submit my upfront payment, do I need to specify which specific number I intend to bid on?
Your upfront payment determines how many numbers you can bid on. The numbers you select in your application determines the universe of numbers you can bid on. For example, if you select 100 toll free numbers on your application, but you submit an upfront payment of $500, your bidding eligibility is 5 toll free numbers. Therefore, during the auction, you can bid on up to 5 of the 100 numbers you selected in your application.
REVIEW PROCESS AND APPLICATION MODIFICATION
Q: Can you update the applicant info?
Certain information, such as contact info, must be kept up to date. These are considered minor modifications and are permissible. Other information, such as a change in ownership, is a major modification and not permissible. For more information on minor and major modifications and the procedures to make such changes, please review the 833 Auction Procedure Public Notice and the FCC Form 833 Application Filing Instructions.
Q: What happens if my application to participate is not initially accepted?
After the initial application window closes, Somos will review the applications and determine whether they are complete or incomplete. If an application is deemed incomplete, the applicant will be contacted and informed about application errors and omissions, and there will be an application resubmission period to make minor modifications to the application. Those items must be fixed by the end of the resubmission deadline, or the application will be deemed incomplete and the applicant will not be qualified to bid in the auction.
Q: If one company is in default on a payment owed the FCC or is in default or delinquent on a non-tax debt owed to any federal agency, can you submit under another company that you have?
No. The FCC prohibits an applicant that is currently in default or delinquent on a non-tax debt to the Federal government from participating in the auction. An applicant will be considered a “current defaulter” or “current delinquent” if it, any of its affiliates, any of its controlling interests, or any of the affiliates of its controlling interests, is in default for any FCC construction permit or license or is delinquent on any non-tax debt owed to any Federal agency. Thus, the prohibition extends to the applicant’s owners and their affiliates.
BIDDING AND PAYMENT
Q: If a toll free Number receives no bids, what happens?
The FCC has not yet decided how to handle toll free numbers which receive no bids. After the conclusion of the 833 Auction, the FCC will issue a decision on how it will assign toll free numbers that receive no bids.
Q: Will we be able to see other people's bids as the auction is going on, or do I have to submit the highest bid I am willing to pay the first time and get no other chances to up my bid?
You will not be able to see other bids. This auction will be conducted as a single round, sealed bid auction, so you will only have one chance to place a bid and you will not see any other bidder’s bids during the auction. This auction is also a Vickrey auction, in which the amount paid by the winning bidder is determined by the second-highest bid. Therefore, you are encouraged to bid your highest value during the single bidding round. There is no second chance to top someone else’s bid.
Q: If the winning bidder does not pay, what happens to the toll free number?
Winning bidders will be required to make full payment on their bids within 10 business days following release of the public notice announcing the winning bidders. If a winning bidder fails to make full payment on its bid or otherwise defaults for any reason, it will be subject to a default payment of 35% of the defaulted bid and will not receive the toll free number. The FCC has not yet decided how to handle toll free numbers in which the bidder has defaulted. After the conclusion of the 833 Auction, the FCC will issue a decision on how it will assign toll free numbers where the bidder has defaulted.
Q: If you win a number in the 833 Auction, can you resell the number to another entity?
Yes. The prohibitions against brokering of toll free numbers does not apply to numbers won at auction.
Q: If a subscriber wins a number and then disconnects it later without selling or transitioning the number is that allowed for these numbers?
Yes, it is allowed. A toll free subscriber is permitted to put the number in service, take it out of service, and/ or hold it for as long as the subscriber wants. Numbers assigned through the auction are not subject to the hoarding, warehousing or brokering restrictions in the FCC’s rules.
Q: If a number is not put into service, does the number then enter back into the spare pool like a normal number after the requisite number (45) of days have passed?
No. You must proactively spare a number assigned in the auction. It will not be automatically spared if not put into service after 45 days. Numbers won at auction are not subject to the hoarding restrictions in the FCC’s rules.
Q: If a number assigned in the auction is returned to spare, is there responsibility to notify the FCC and/or Somos of the change?
Somos will know when an auction number has been spared. We’ll make an additional check to ensure that the number was intentionally spared. Once spared, those numbers will no longer be eligible to be resold, hoarded, or warehoused.
Q: If a number that was assigned in the auction is spared, is that number still eligible for the secondary market when It Is assigned to a new subscriber out of the spare pool?
No. Once a number goes through the spare pool, it no longer has the special ‘auctioned’ status. It is treated like any other non-auctioned number and is subject to the same prohibitions on brokering, hoarding and warehousing.
Q: If a number is sold, and, as part of the sale, there is a change in Resp Org, who is responsible for updating the ownership information?
If there has been a sale of a number, and the sale includes a Resp Org change, only the Resp Org providing service to the purchasing subscriber must update the ownership information. Once it leaves your Resp Org ID, you are relieved of the responsibility to update.
Q: Where will the auctioned number ownership information be stored?
The initial winning bidder information will be released on the Somos auction website after the auction has concluded. Ownership and changes in ownership will be tracked in the Somos toll free Number Registry (TFN Registry). It is the Resp Org’s responsibility to update the ownership information in the TFN Registry.