Public Interest Groups Urge FCC to Set Aside 40 MHz in 600 MHz Auction for Smaller Carriers

by Istvan Fekete on February 26, 2015

The FCC should follow Industry Canada’s example and set aside at least 40 MHz in the 600 MHz spectrum auction, because last year’s AWS-3 auction resulted in AT&T and Verizon securing the premium spectrum and left the rest of the industry with “only a smattering of paired blocks and 15 MHz of low-value, unpaired, uplink spectrum”, a coalition of public interest groups wrote to the regulator.

In the letter sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow commissioners, the group highlighted the results of the recent auction: AT&T spent $18.2 billion, Verizon $10.4 billion, and Dish Network $13.3 billion on licences.

T-Mobile, on the other hand, paid $1.77 billion, while the rest of the auction’s bidders produced net total bids of $941 million.

What the public interest groups are trying to emphasize in their letter is that without more meaningful protection against spectrum concentration than the FCC has adopted so far, AT&T and Verizon can use future auctions “to prevent other carriers from gaining access to the spectrum necessary to compete.”

“The upcoming 600 MHz incentive auction provides what may be the FCC’s final opportunity to prevent the two dominant carriers from monopolizing the low-band spectrum needed to compete in a broadband data world,” they wrote. “Because AT&T and Verizon already control nearly three-quarters of the nation’s uniquely valuable low-band spectrum, only a spectrum reserve of 40 MHz or more can prevent the two dominant carriers from using the 600 MHz auction to extinguish the handful of wireless broadband competitors that continue to offer consumers an alternative for wireless voice and data services.”

A great example would be Industry Canada: The AWS-3 spectrum auction will kick off shortly, but incumbents have limited access to available licences, since Ottawa has set aside a part of the available spectrum to foster the growth of smaller players. This is what was missing from the previous spectrum auction orchestrated by the FCC.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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