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AT&T: Preventing Us From Hoarding Spectrum 'Unlawful'
Says Company With Long History of Laughing at Law
by Karl Bode 08:13AM Friday Apr 26 2013
Earlier this month the Department of Justice warned the FCC that they should potentially cap the amount of spectrum AT&T and Verizon can acquire moving forward to prevent the two companies from hoarding spectrum anti-competitively. "Today, the two leading carriers have the vast majority of low-frequency spectrum, whereas the two other nationwide carriers have virtually none," wrote the DOJ. "This results in the two smaller nationwide carriers having a somewhat diminished ability to compete, particularly in rural areas where the cost to build out coverage is higher with high-frequency spectrum."

It's 2013, and the DOJ is just now figuring out that AT&T and Verizon could potentially squat on spectrum to harm competitors. Needless to say, AT&T isn't too happy with the idea of limited how much spectrum they can buy, or regulators doing anything to increase the amount of competition the company sees. As such, AT&T sent a letter to the FCC insisting that any such restrictions would be "unlawful":
quote:
"It is surprising that the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice would even propose measures that are so nakedly designed to help specific companies. The Commission's mandate under the Communications Act is to promote the competitive process, not to pick winners and losers in that process. Rigging spectrum auctions to favor Sprint and T-Mobile would be unlawful."
Except capping spectrum acquisitions moving forward wouldn't just favor Sprint and T-Mobile, it would favor any other carrier that could apply additional competitive pressure for AT&T, and could protect spectrum potentially used for White Space broadband. As for what's unlawful, AT&T likely protests too much given their history of both breaking the law themselves, or paying Congress to have laws changed they don't like.

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axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC
Reviews:
·Comcast

Looks like someone at DOJ will be reprimanded

AT&T has broken the the anti-wiretap law in every way possible, to provide the government with information. If the government does not provide something in return, and starts caring about what laws actually say, AT&T may just start following the law too.
josephf

join:2009-04-26
Reviews:
·VoicePulse

Antitrust Violations Are Unlawful

What is unlawful is to violate the antitrust laws. And what the U.S. Department of Justice is indicating in their letter to the FCC is that AT&T or Verizon hoarding spectrum for the unstated purpose to keep it out of smaller competitors hands so that they cannot effectively compete with AT&T and Verizon, is unlawful.

And the DOJ and FCC must uphold the antitrust laws even if that means inhibiting AT&T and Verizon from hoarding additional spectrum.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Antitrust Violations Are Unlawful

said by josephf:

What is unlawful is to violate the antitrust laws. And what the U.S. Department of Justice is indicating in their letter to the FCC is that AT&T or Verizon hoarding spectrum for the unstated purpose to keep it out of smaller competitors hands so that they cannot effectively compete with AT&T and Verizon, is unlawful.

And the DOJ and FCC must uphold the antitrust laws even if that means inhibiting AT&T and Verizon from hoarding additional spectrum.

But they have to go to court to enforce the law. They can't make the FCC do it thru the back door.
BosstonesOwn

join:2002-12-15
Wakefield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Antitrust Violations Are Unlawful

Oh they will make them do it through the back door. Someone will grease the right palms and the consumer/citizens will end up taking it in the back door.
--
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: Antitrust Violations Are Unlawful

well that is how American business is designed to operate. Consumers are just a required evil to a major telecom.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

AC21365

join:2001-03-24
Colorado Springs, CO

This is just the beginning...

Can't help but think about how bad this is going to get as we get closer to the auction. AT&T's already getting fussy now, I can't see this auction going down without Verizon and AT&T being dragged by their ankles kicking and screaming.
Rekrul

join:2007-04-21
Milford, CT
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse

1 recommendation

Correction...

The quote from AT&T needs a couple corrections;

said by article :

"It is surprising that the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice would even propose measures that are so nakedly designed to help specific companies, that aren't us. The Commission's mandate under the Communications Act is to promote our agenda, not to help other companies succeed. Rigging spectrum auctions to favor Sprint and T-Mobile, rather than us would be harmful to our bottom line."

There, that's better.
BosstonesOwn

join:2002-12-15
Wakefield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Correction...

You forgot the PS section.

PS.. We have paid the congressional seats with power, a good amount of money for the ability to do what we want when we want. If your looking for "contributions" as well please see Congressman $ANYREP. And he will help you find the right person to get your "contribution".

Love AT&T

--
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"
djcrazy
Premium
join:2009-08-05
Minneapolis, MN
Reviews:
·Comcast
·T-Mobile US

Ughh!!

AT&T needs to be slapped again like they were in the 80's. How about this? NO additional low frequency spectrum for either AT&T or Verizon. Cap em at what they have and bar them from the new auction altogether. Oh, capping? That would be a nice taste of their own medicine!
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

Re: Ughh!!

Yes, we need caps to stop the spectrum hogs from causing the Mhzflood.
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA
said by djcrazy:

Oh, capping? That would be a nice taste of their own medicine!

Absolutely, the fact that AT&T is capping their customers proves that the Department of Justice capping AT&T's spectrum is lawful!

Probitas

@teksavvy.com

What you talkin' 'bout Willis?

Uhm, the FCC is to promote competition, and keeping two companies from hoarding spectrum just to prevent others from using it would do just that, and AT&T wants to call that anti-competitive?

Pot, meet Kettle.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

It's been mismanaged all along

The way that they split spectrum up into little tiny blocks and sell it off to a bunch of different carriers has made a total mess out of our spectrum, with some carriers being good in one market, and others in another. They need to re-align the cellular block, so that carriers can't get all 50mhz of it like AT&T and Verizon do in some markets (AT&T especially).

Sprint is actually in good standing with SMR, T-Mobile has nothing on the beachfront. The bigger issue is whether they actually want to build out. Sprint has the spectrum to build out bigger than Verizon or AT&T. You don't need a lot of low frequency spectrum to build out in rural areas, as even in the rural areas, most phones will be parked on the PCS or 2600 bands (in Sprint/Clear's case) most of the time, you just need enough to provide the coverage to the few users near the edge of the cell.

The best plan would have been to let AT&T&T happen, and suck up USCC in the process with Downeast and any other overlap markets being divested to Verizon, let Sprint eat up Metro and Cricket, and then do some spectrum re-alignments in certain markets to get more even spectrum everywhere, and then force the three carriers to give full MVNO access at regulated rates. That would have created great competition between all the different carriers, and made the networks better as a result.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

1 edit

Re: It's been mismanaged all along

said by BiggA:

The best plan would have been to let AT&T&T happen

Uh...no.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: It's been mismanaged all along

You cut off the rest of my sentence. It should have been a give and take, not a closed-minded "NO!". If the government was effective at regulating, they would have put a whole bunch of stipulations on coverage, MVNO access, and other things in exchange for AT&T&T. Imagine if AT&T&T had gone through, and with 30% more customers, AT&T&T would have had more than double the capacity of HSPA+ as compared to the current AT&T, due to the spectrum synergy.

I'd like to see three very large cell providers in the US, each with true nationwide networks, and stipulations that they have to provide MVNO access.
mlcarson

join:2001-09-20
Los Alamos, NM

Spectrum policy needs to be changed

Spectrum policy needs to be changed to use it or lose it. Maybe give them a 5-year window and after that it goes up for rebid.
scooper

join:2000-07-11
Youngsville, NC
kudos:2

Re: Spectrum policy needs to be changed

said by mlcarson:

Spectrum policy needs to be changed to use it or lose it. Maybe give them a 5-year window and after that it goes up for rebid.

Better - add a really stiff "fee" for having spectrum and not using it - so stiff that unless they have immediate plans for it - they won't ask for it.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2
Or bidders bring their confidential deployment plans to the FCC to "qualify" for the auctions. Qualification would involve timelines that the spectrum would be deployed if successfully leased during the auction. After successful licensing of the spectrum, the FCC would then hold the winners accountable for their plans and timelines. Failure to meet their projected timelines would result in forfeiture of the licenses and the spectrum would go back on the block during the next auction.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: Spectrum policy needs to be changed

We have seen these approved proposals be skirted time and time again so how would this be different?

My I remind you of the time (Was it 1996?) to get what they wanted THEY proposed 45/45mbps speeds to all of their foot print and here we are 17 years later and only a hand full of people have it.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Spectrum policy needs to be changed

Because we'd kick the FCC in the arse? A lot of people whine about the incumbents "getting away" with things. A lot of people whine about the failure of regulators. We all know what needs to be done. The question remains whether we'll do it.