AT&T: Preventing Us From Hoarding Spectrum 'Unlawful'
Says Company With Long History of Laughing at Law
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":
"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.
Re: Antitrust Violations Are Unlawful
said by josephf:But they have to go to court to enforce the law. They can't make the FCC do it thru the back door.
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.
Correction... The quote from AT&T needs a couple corrections;
said by article :There, that's better.
"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."
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.
Re: It's been mismanaged all along
said by BiggA:Uh...no.
The best plan would have been to let AT&T&T happen
Re: Spectrum policy needs to be changed
said by mlcarson: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.
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.