The fight over rules for 2014′s 600 MHz auction by the FCC is pitting big carriers (AT&T and Verizon Wireless) against smaller carriers (T-Mobile, Sprint and regional carriers), explains Fierce Wireless.
Smaller carriers say the duopoly already “owns” the 700 MHz band, and could block them out of the 600 MHz band. They want to restrict the two larger carriers in the 600 MHz auction. The larger carriers say it will deprive the auction of needed revenue.
Both sides want to restrict the use of “free” White spaces in the 600 MHz band.
AT&T filed a document with the FCC this week(PDF) by two economic professors that argue any “restricting” of the duopoly could “almost certainly doom the auction.”
In an accompanying blog post by Joan Marsh, AT&T’s vice president of federal regulatory, the carrier said that T-Mobile’s proposal is unnecessary and will also reduce auction revenues by putting limits on how much spectrum carriers could acquire.
Kathleen Ham, a T-Mobile vice president, argued that without “competitive safeguards” there won’t be anything to prevent AT&T and Verizon from winning all of the low-band spectrum at auction.
In its FCC presentation, T-Mobile displayed a graph showing that AT&T and Verizon Wireless together currently hold in excess of 100 MHz of lower-band spectrum averaged across the top 100 markets, while all other carriers combined hold barely over 20 MHz.
In late June, T-Mobile proposed a rule, which it calls a “Dynamic Market Rule,” that combines market forces with limits on spectrum aggregation. Carriers will bid to acquire spectrum that broadcast TV stations have relinquished, starting with a spectrum-aggregation limit. The limit would be one-third of the low-band spectrum in a given market.
However, there would be a carve-out for AT&T and Verizon, which would be able to obtain a 5×5 MHz block of spectrum in any market where they exceed the limit.
If (when) Tom Wheeler becomes head of the FCC, AT&T and Verizon may get their wish — and keep prices high. White space? Forget it. Any alternative to carrier-controlled pricing could be unlikely in the Wheeler administration.
Maybe the big White Space Conference this month will help clarify some of the issues surrounding “free” spectrum in the 600 MHz band (and lower). With a power restriction of 100 mW for mobile devices, however, white space devices are unlikely to be much of a threat to commercial operators in speed or capacity.
But you never know.
Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and others just might turn the world upside down — if the FCC is willing to look at a competitive ad revenue model for broadband wireless in the United States. What worked for WiFi in the (free) 2.4 GHz band might work ten times better in the unlicensed 600 MHz band. And it might save $5 Billion in Universal Service Funds.
Wheeler is not going to let that happen. It does him no good.
Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Supports National White Space Networking , War 2.0 for Unlicensed Spectrum, Congressional Battle over Unlicensed Spectrum, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Space Radio using 802.11af Demoed, FCC: TV Auction in 2014 , FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz