new wireless carriers Granted nobody but AT&T really knows how much spectrum AT&T really needs, and competitors and consumer advocates alike continue to worry that AT&T is simply using their deep pockets to acquire additional spectrum to prevent new competitors from entering the market.
What would the odds be of new competitors emerging though? Which company and/or group of investors is going to sink tens of billions of dollars into building a new nationwide wireless network? It's a mature market, for better or worse, and mature markets don't tend to see new outfits jumping into them with the forlorn hope of snatching market share away from their established competitors. More to the point, do we need a fifth nationwide wireless network? How much infrastructure duplication are you prepared to condone, and what happens if you overbuild and turn the industry into a bubble (think of the housing market) that later crashes?
A better policy approach would have been to give Sprint and T-Mobile priority access to better spectrum holdings. Verizon and AT&T should not have been allowed to gobble up the 700mhz bands freed by the sunsetting of analog TV. They already have 850mhz cellular licenses across most of the country, while T-Mobile and Sprint are forced to compete using less attractive PCS and AWS holdings (Sprint does have a limited amount of lower spectrum holdings inherited from Nextel's iDen network, not sure if it's enough to deploy LTE on though)
There's simply no way for Sprint and T-Mobile to compete on a level playing field when they are forced to use frequencies that don't penetrate as well as the ones AT&T and Verizon have. They can spend more capital to equal their coverage, or they can have an inferior product, neither approach is a recipe for success.
I'm not much for interference in the marketplace, but the airwaves are a public resource, and once upon a time we only issued licenses for them if it would advance the public good. We ought to get back to that mentality, IMHO, and create something of a level playing field in this industry.