The Anti-trust division justice Departments tells FCC that that they need to make sure that smaller wireless carrier companies, Sprint and T- Mobile, need to get access to low-frequency spectrum during the auction to ensure that the competition is maintained.
Currently, FCC is drafting the rules for spectrum auctions of the spectrum that TV broadcasters are giving up, making way for wireless broadband companies to take it instead. This is particular for spectrum below 1 GHz. usually at 600 MHz. This has a higher value as it the wireless carrier can travel long distances and even penetrate through buildings. Justice Department however requests that FCC should include a rule to address this issue by providing a cap. Large wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon already have a substantial amount of 700MHz frequency spectrum which allowed them to build their 4G LTE networks.
The Department said in a filling to the FCC,”The Department concludes that rules that ensure the smaller nationwide networks, which currently lack substantial low-frequency spectrum, have an opportunity to acquire such spectrum could improve the competitive dynamic among nationwide carriers and benefit consumers. The more concentrated a wireless market is, the more likely a carrier will find it profitable to acquire spectrum with the aim of raising competitors’ costs. This could take the shape, for example, of pursuing spectrum in order to prevent its use by a competitor, independent of how efficiently the carrier uses the spectrum.”
Larry Krevor, Vice President for Government Affairs, Spring said,”The Justice Department is absolutely right. Ensuring that all carriers, large and small, have access to the low-band spectrum would improve competition and benefit consumers. We are hopeful that the FCC will adopt policies which recognize the importance of low-band spectrum to wireless competition and the American economy as a whole.”
AT&T and Verizon on the other hand argued that any limitation during the auction will limit their participation.