A group of smaller carriers have banded together to ask the FCC to place restrictions on Verizon and AT&T in an upcoming spectrum auction. The group, made up of some familiar names as well as a rag-tag bunch of also-ran carriers, is asking that the FCC do something about the two domestic behemoths. The group worries that having such a widespread portfolio will hurt them as well as consumers.
In a meeting with the FCC legal advisors as well as Chairman Tom Wheeler, the group said Verizon and AT&T “have a powerful economic incentive to acquire the remaining low-band spectrum they do not already control in order to prevent competitors from undercutting them with superior service, pricing, terms, or technology.” This is the same line we’ve heard recently from T-Mobile’s John Legere, who noted that a merger between his company and Sprint could serve to thwart the spectrum duopoly they feel AT&T and Verizon have. They pointed out that the two have the highest spectrum book values.
Both AT&T and Verizon are arguing against such sanctions. They note that such limitations will hamper FirstNet, a public safety broadband network that is planed for nationwide rollout. Also, they feel that the proposed limitations essentially chooses winners and losers ahead of auction, which isn’t the spirit.
It’s a strong argument both ways, and has additional wrinkles throughout. T-Mobile is trying to pick up 700MHz spectrum from Verizon while arguing they should be hamstrung in further auctions. the group — Sprint, T-Mobile, C Spire Wireless, The Competitive Carriers Association, The Rural Wireless Association, The New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the Writers Guild of America — all feel the playing field should be leveled. The question is, with such a disparate spectrum field already, is that even possible?
In a separate filing, Verizon struck back hard. Asking that all spectrum be up for sale, they went on to ask that the FCC “reject requests to restrict the ability of Verizon and AT&T to participate, which will reduce auction revenues and risk outright auction failure. Instead, it should adopt rules that encourage the broadest possible participation by broadcasters and wireless carriers alike, in order to maximize the amount of spectrum repurposed for mobile broadband and fund FirstNet and deficit reduction.” Strong arguments both ways, butt he FCC is fond of a balanced field of play, so we’ll have to wait and see where this takes us.
VIA: Fierce Wireless