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DOJ Warns FCC To Limit AT&T, Verizon Spectrum Buys
Who Knew Letting Two Giant Companies Own It All Could Be Bad?
by Karl Bode 09:12AM Monday Apr 15 2013
It may have taken a decade, but at least somebody in the United States government has started to figure out that letting AT&T and Verizon buy up all of the nation's spectrum might not be the brightest idea for the health of the wireless market. The companies have a long, long history of crying spectrum poverty despite a treasure trove of spectrum holdings and a parade of new deals.

For whatever reason, the press and many wireless industry analysts seem to go out of their way to avoid noting that while shortages do exists in scattered geographical markets, this insatiable thirst is driven in part by a desire to ensure no additional competitors can come to market, and that existing competitors remain constrained and weak.

Showing a level of concern for consumers we haven't seen since the blocked AT&T T-Mobile deal, the Department of Justice is warning the FCC to cap the amount of additional spectrum AT&T and Verizon can now get at auction. Smaller carriers like T-Mobile don't want them banned, they just want them capped to a reasonable degree. From a letter to the FCC by the DOJ's Antitrust division:
quote:
"(The FCC) must ensure that the allocation of spectrum at auction does not enable carriers with high market shares to foreclose smaller carriers from improving their customers' coverage...Today, the two leading carriers have the vast majority of low-frequency spectrum, whereas the two other nationwide carriers have virtually none. 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."
The FCC is preparing to conduct a new auction in the 600MHz band the DOJ worries will be dominated by AT&T and Verizon, ensuring no further competitors can come to market. The government finally becoming skeptical of the two companies' quest to own nearly all of this valuable public-owned resource seems to officially mark the end of the "spectrum crunch" narrative by the big telcos.

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

Will the FCC listen? And is what DOJ asks even legal?

Will the FCC listen? And is what DOJ asks even legal?
Looks like more lawsuits in the works from AT&T and Verizon if they are shut out of auction.
WernerSchutz

join:2009-08-04
Sugar Land, TX

2 edits

Re: Will the FCC listen? And is what DOJ asks even legal?

Maybe the DOJ should investigate the collusion agreements while they are at it.
dra6o0n

join:2011-08-15
Mississauga, ON
Everyone has skeletons in their closets, even large scale corporations and governments.

Just have someone snoop into them and yank them out, then threaten them with it and tell everyone anyways for the trolling aspect.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
Good question, but I would say that if the DOJ really wanted to they could rip both companies apart with their current monopolistic actions and such.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
united state
kudos:2

Re: Will the FCC listen? And is what DOJ asks even legal?

Really? What "monopolistic actions" by Verizon and AT&T warrant their dismantling?
mocycler
Premium
join:2001-01-22
kudos:1

1 edit
If you take AT&T and Verizon out of the game, or limit their ability to play, you also greatly reduce the value of the spectrum because not too many other players have the big money.

Or to put it another way: You're selling a thingy. Several buyers make offers ranging from $1000-$2000. Another buyer offers $10,000 but they are a Big Bad Company. Are you going to refuse to sell to Big Bad Company and take a huge loss on the basis that you don't like them?

The government will piss and fuss and talk about "public good" then sell the spectrum to the highest bidder...as they rightfully should.

hey hey hey

@charter.com

more carriers is not necessarilly good

No matter what people say bandwidth/spectrum is limited. People thinking having 10 carriers would be some godsend. Sorry all that does is have 10 carriers each with limited spectrum which will means continued low caps( because you can't get blood from a turnip and physics is physics ) So you'd have bunch of regional carrier which really won't enhance competition and will suck if you travel outside that region. Wow enjoy 4G in parent of the state you live in and 2G speeds everywhere else. Sounds like a plan.

Hell Sprint and t-mobile aren't even TRUE national carriers when over 1/3 of the population is excluded from their services. They can have more spectrum from this auction than Verizon and at&t on the condition they build out a TRUE nationwide network covering 95% of the population with 4G. If not screw them.
WernerSchutz

join:2009-08-04
Sugar Land, TX

Re: more carriers is not necessarilly good

Funny that it works well in Europe.

I also hear that Standard Oil was a great thing.

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

1 recommendation

Re: more carriers is not necessarilly good

said by WernerSchutz:

Funny that it works well in Europe.

EU's regulators carved out spectrum allocations that serve all of the various carriers. And their phones work on all carriers and roaming is mandatory. The FCC allowed US wireless spectrum to be fragmented so that roaming is near impossible and phones are not portable from carrier to carrier. Blame the FCC for this mess.
WernerSchutz

join:2009-08-04
Sugar Land, TX

Re: more carriers is not necessarilly good

Between a weak and corrupted regulator and corrupt companies doing the corruption, I will blame first the companies then the regulator.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
united state
kudos:2

Re: more carriers is not necessarilly good

That's silly. Companies will conduct business to their maximum benefit IAW law and regulation. We have regulators for a reason. They get the blame, pure and simple.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
you have the additional issue that the big US players do not use all the same kind of network. afaik the EU is all GSM based in some form. the US is GSM and CDMA.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

moldypickle

join:2009-01-04
Haughton, LA
kudos:2
Standard Oil, you sir, are showing your age, lol

CrowMag

join:2003-03-11
Boulder Creek, CA

1 edit

2 recommendations

Time to bust up the Bells again.

It didn't take Ma Bell long to bribe her way back together.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
united state
kudos:2

Re: Time to bust up the Bells again.

Where is Ma Bell? Because I don't see her.

CrowMag

join:2003-03-11
Boulder Creek, CA

Re: Time to bust up the Bells again.

She has changed her name but she is still around.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
united state
kudos:2

Re: Time to bust up the Bells again.

Hah, no she isn't. The name lives, but the body has been dead since the 80s. Perhaps we should bring her back if we want cutting edge networks in the US.
sparks

join:2001-07-08
Little Rock, AR

Rates are going up

someone new to bribe.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

More carriers is NOT the answer

With the country this big, what they should do is force all carriers to allow full MVNO access at regulated rates, regulate them as a pseudo-monopoly, and require that the networks only sell to customers of a certain size, like several hundred thousand lines at a time, which would force them to split with their retail arms, and the retail arms would become yet another MVNO. At a minimum, they should have let AT&T&T and USCC all merge together, Verizon to eat it's LTEiRA partners plus divested AT&T/USCC markets plus gobble up ACS, and then Sprint/Metro/Leap/Clearwire all merge together, and have three carriers to each build a network and compete against each other's networks in a price-regulated world. They should also force the carriers to allow MVNOs to build phones and back-ends that could dynamically switch carriers based on price, bandwidth, latency, signal, etc, effectively turning the networks into giant dumb pipes at the lowest levels.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY

too late

these two companies ARE a de-facto duopoly for wireless coverage. the other companies are there just for window dressing.
nlwnola

join:2011-01-19
Metairie, LA

Be honest Karl

Karl Bode is ridiculous. Just write the article you want to write. Say you want the United States to become a communist nation

whiteshp

join:2002-03-05
Xenia, OH

Shared spectrum

Any future spectrum released should be set up as shared spectrum. Let it be used by all carriers as a public trust.