AT&T threatens to not participate in the auction if rumored restrictions are put in place

An upcoming spectrum auction that will offer up airwaves previously reserved for broadcasters could actually give the most benefit to smaller mobile network providers. The auction, which will have highly-desirable 600MHz spectrum up for grabs, may have restrictions placed on it that will keep the big players Verizon and AT&T from snatching up too much. According to reports, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to set up the auction in a way that smaller providers — such as T-Mobile and smaller regional carriers — will have a fair shot at buying some spectrum without being drastically outbid by the big money behind the leading carriers.

Chairman Wheeler explains that because Verizon and AT&T have taken advantage of their market position in past auctions they have snatched up a majority of the sub-1GHz spectrum across most of the country, while smaller carriers have traditionally relied on the less-efficient spectrum above 1GHz and even 2GHz in some cases. The proposed auction plans expect to restrict any single buyer from picking up more than one-third of the spectrum up for grabs in any given market — once they bid and control that amount, the other two-thirds will be up for sale to other carriers.

Naturally Verizon and AT&T aren't too happy about the situation, and AT&T in particular has made statements that it could possibly not participate in the auction altogether — even though it has participated in every major auction in the past — if the restrictions are put in place. The nation's second-largest carrier claims the restrictions would keep it from making a bid for spectrum covering upwards of 70 percent of the U.S. population. The threat of dropping one big bidder out of the auction means the government would potentially raise a far smaller amount of money for the high-value spectrum.

Although Wheeler's positions on providing more competition in the wireless carrier market have been questionable in the past, it doesn't seem that a threat from AT&T will deter him from putting together an auction that could in the end benefit lower-tier carriers and in turn competition amongst the big four. A formal showing of the final rules for the auction is expected in the near future.

Source: WSJ


Reader comments

FCC to limit Verizon and AT&T participation in upcoming low-band spectrum auction


Good. Let att and Verizon throw a fit like a little kid who doesn't get their way. So hopefully tmo can buy some and use it to expand their network and become a more viable alternative in many more places.

Your usual bias against T-Mobile is showing as always. I believe you're thinking about Sprint who owns more spectrum than anybody, yet doesn't utilize the majority of it. We get it, you don't like T-Mobile, as evident by most of your comments. T-Mobile has made huge strides in the past year to upgrade its network, and it's showing and they have no intentions of stopping now.

They run a protection network to sit on spectrum in Omaha. So yeah when Legere and T-Mobile talk about covering 97% of the country it is a bit of a joke. They won't even sell you service in Omaha one of the 50 largest metros in the country.

No. Just no.

It is a sorry state of affairs when from Harrisburg to Philly to Baltimore T-Mobile cannot get 4g. Sprint covers the area with flying colors (to be fair, sprint did not do the upgrades in that area)

T-Mobile has not tried to upgrade here in 5 years. Also note I am not talking about in Baltimore or Philly, but getting there and in Harrisburg

Posted via Android Central App

Yup, then move a city like long beach ca where T-Mobile covers the whole entire city and then the cities surrounding with LTE while sprint has been promising LTE for years for the same area. 3G is still the prominent data signal for sprint all over the nation. You're just one of the lucky few who have reliable LTE. T-Mobile may not cover you, but they sure cover a heck of a lot more customers than Sprint.
"Android is a Robot, not a Galaxy."

And yet somehow Sprint still has more customers than T-Mobile. And who would care about the coverage I the ghetto of Long Beach.

Do you have tin foil on your phone? I've traveled through all those cities in recent months, DC to Providence, and got 4G most of the time. The only true dead spots for T-Mo was in New York.

AT&T is just posturing. Like all other public companies, they have a board to answer to. They'll participate no matter what. The grandstanding will only backfire on them.

The FCC is the one government agency that is for the most part on the consumers' side.

Posted from one of an unnecessarily large collection of Nexus devices because I'm That Guy

Negative. They seem to be, but look back at the past and we see some huge mistakes.

They make cable company subscriber pay for the local basic channels no matter what.

They killed Ma' Bell, which in turn killed Bell Labs, which set back quite a bit of technology for years. Then they just let most of the baby bells buy each other back up.

They are not on our side any more than the IRS, it's a government agency.

Sent with bathwater

Killing Ma Bell was a good thing. If anything, that needs to happen again as VZW and ATT are clearly manipulating the market if the FCC has to step in and restrict them. Ma Bell wasn't innovating or leading a damn thing, neither are ATT or VZW.

Posted via Android Central App

So you would rather have our government manipulate the market? They've done so well at that in the past.

I don't know if you have read the constitution or not, but the government has no place in the marketplace. We are not Cuba or China.

Posted via Android Central App

Seriously? The commerce clause. It's right in the constitution.

Posted via Android Central App

That's a pretty gross misunderstanding of the commerce clause. It was intended to get all the states to "play nice" together regarding acceptance of a national currency. It should not give the government carte blanche to start meddling in commercial markets (although whether or not this is actually "allowed" has waffled a bit over the years, depending on who is sitting on the supreme court).

That said, I can agree with a stipulation like this which prevents a single giant company from grabbing up *all* of the spectrum at auction.

You're joking right? When has the government ever made anything better? Obamacare. Social security. Medicare?

Medicare is the most efficient, lowest cost insurance program in the country, with admin costs about 25% of private insurers.

For the consumers, Medicare is low-cost. Problem is that they do that by using tax-payer monies and not paying their full obligations. Medicaid and Medicare are setup so that they only pay like 70% of the actual bill, and require the doctors and hospitals to "eat" the remaining cost. Where do you think they get that extra money from? Nothing is "free". Somebody, somewhere is paying for it.

You need to look back at your history. Bell Labs was one of the greatest research labs the US ever had. We pretty much owe the computer generation to the work they did in the 70's.

Sent with bathwater

They do quite a few things behind the scenes that are consumer friendly and friendly to other needy sectors of society.

I work with them daily on one such project.

Posted via Android Central App

I would be just fine with that, except that's kind of the Pablo Escobar way of doing things. Keep the poor on your side so you have that to fall back on while you blowup an entire jetliner to kill one Judge.

Sent with bathwater

Killing Ma Bell was sheer stupidity. It unnecessarily threw the country into chaos for years and the baby Bells have only grown to be far larger and far worse. It's the government picking winners and losers again. Anyone thinking the government manipulating markets is a good thing has got their heads up their butt. It always makes things worse.

If you think any company controlling the entirety of a market is a good thing then you need to stop taking those stupid pills in the morning. A well run government represents the will of the people. A well run company represents the will of its stockholders, which is to make money, pure and simple. VZW and ATT stick it to consumers already, imagine how they would bend you over a barrel and fist your up your backside if they were a monopoly. You would have literally no choice in what service you used or how much you paid for it except whatever limited options they deigned to give you. Government interference in the market, like a root canal, is not a good thing, but when it happens it's because something is seriously f#+$&ed up in the marketplace. If you want a truly free market go to some third world country where the government is a limp rice paper puppet and see how much fun 'freedom' from governance really is.

A monopoly by one company is no better than having the government control the industry wholly. No less inclined to corruption, incompetence or ineptitude. At least with gov controlled sectors every citizen has a say in theory. Healthy competition is the best way to go though, ala the Android/iOS/Windows OS war.
Posted via Android Central App

That was a government caused monopoly. It only was broken up in 1997 with the telecommunications act that let non-phone companies have access to phone infrastructure. They could just passed that same sort of bill in the 70's and we would have been far better off. Or better yet just have left the industry alone.

Sent with bathwater

And killing Ma Bell really ended up doing nothing for the consumer, because of the timing of it. For a short time we got a chance to change to a long distance company that lowered our long distance bills by a few pennies. Then, we all ditched our landlines for cellular anyway. And for those companies that need huge numbers of voice lines? They switched to VoIP.

But it did give the politicians another reason to drop balloons and spray confetti at their next fund raising rallies. Ya know... doing good things for the people of the US.

The only real lasting effect was the destruction of one of our nations leading technological labs, a lab that the politicians could not name after themselves.

It's a good thing there are two companies then VERIZON and AT&T, which are American comoanies. Oh wait and Sprint and T-Mobile which are not American companies. And the last two companies have enough money to compete with the big two but they choose not too.
And what do you mean healthy competition with Windows OS?

You need a history book. The government didn't kill MA Bell and Bell Labs. AT&T wanted to be broken up so it could enter competitive businesses. AT&T killed Bell Labs.

How can you say at&t and Verizon aren't innovating a damn thing. I'm pretty sure the 2 have the absolute best nationwide coverage. You know what that takes? Billions of dollars to upgrade, build and maintain. Verizon and at&t customers pay a small premium because there service works no matter where they are. I would pay 50 bucks more a month for service I can use everywhere I go rather than save 50 bucks to be shut out if I travel 5 minutes outside of the city.

Posted via Android Central App

"Yes, breaking up monopolies is bad." He posted from Internet Explorer on his Windows PC before checking his IPhone.

Posted via Android Central App

It sounds like a good idea but won't work. Verizon will just buy it from a carrier later, like they did with cableco.

Hopefully the regional carriers, then they can start buying each other up and we can get a legit 3rd provider.

Sent with bathwater

Why have TMo move up to 3 which should force sprints hand and instead of buying carriers they can use that money to in turn become competitive instead of relying on buying carriers in order to beef up subscribers to be the Walmart of the cell phone industries by being able to negotiate better cell phones for them but not doing anything for their customers.

Posted via Android Central App

Well So AT&T and Verizon can buy 2/3 of the spectrum doesn't really leave a lot for the rest. I am with big red so I hope they get it all.

Canada did this in the 700 mHz auction not too long ago. The Big Three were not allowed to purchase more than 2/3rds of the blocks altogether, leaving 1/3rd open for smaller carriers or for unpaired blocks.

I think Verizon and AT&T customers in this section have forgotten what Unlimited LTE looks like, or Costs for that matter.

I'm tired of hearing "we have the best coverage". If you have the best coverage why do you guys need more?

You don't ever hear Verizon or AT&T customers screaming "we have the best prices", or "we give the most data".

Posted via my SPARK enabled Sprint LG G2, K00949438Yd FRAMILY!

Coverage and capacity are two different things. Spectrum is what allows them to increase both

Posted via Android Central App

My point is that some people travel to places that don't have Wifi. Also, not everyone is you. Your usage can't be compared to everyone else's.

That's my point.

Yes, some people use less, (I average about 1gig). But for me, $30/month for UNLIMITED 4g is still vastly CHEAPER then any plan vzw/att can offer. Hell, my current plan is cheaper then even tmo or sprint can offer.

I hope more spectrum to the little guys will help bring down prices in the end.

That is nice that you only pay $30 a month. The question is if the carrier is making any money on you. If not then that model is not sustainable. A company is supposed to make money not lose money.

So, because the average is 2gig, those of us who put 8-9 gigs a month through our phone deserve to get it up the @$$?

But no single company tries to control all of the gas stations in order to gouge those that drive an SUV.

I do have a 10GB data plan, which I have my GF on. We NEVER go above 2GBs. Combined. Now, if it as cheaper to just get that plan, I would, but since carrier pricing is a maze, I actually get the best deal on 10. VZW, with hotspot and unlimited international texting. $100. Before my 20% discount and $10 a month loyalty discount. So, $60 a month aint too bad.

This is obviously just an empty threat , there is something like 84 MHz available in this auction, 1/3 is a large chunk and the rule applies to everyone seems completely fair.

AT&T will need more spectrum they can't skip this very important auction.

Posted via Android Central App

Good! Even up the board! Verizon and At&t might have the most coverage but I'm rooting for TMobile. Customer service is great and I'm not paying out of my ass but they could use better coverage. Change it up a little people!

Posted via Android Central App

But I have AT&T and the more spectrum they get the better coverage and capacity I will get. If T-Mobile wants it bad enough they can open up their wallet.

Ok. And, other people have TMobile and could certainly benefit from the increased coverage that more spectrum can provide.

But most people have VERIZON and AT&T And the more spectrum they get then more people benefit than if T-Mobile got the spectrum

By T-Mobile and Sprint gaining the spectrum, they will have the ability to create a network that rivals AT&T and Verizon. This would benefit you by offering you more choices for your mobile service. If you stay with AT&T you will still benefit from the increase in competition, which will lower prices or add value to the current price you pay as AT&T will be forced to compete with a stronger contender. Competition is good for ALL consumers, get over it.

They already have the spectrum but they aren't using it. They have chosen not to build out their network to rival AT&T and Verizon

With a new roaming effort between Sprint and the regional carriers (and maybe T-Mobile) they really need common spectrum to roam on. As long as they don't screw up dividing it into bands like they did the 700 Mhz (band 17 and 12 still isn't fixed) then this can be first great thing to happen to the little guys.

Why is this a bad thing? This means that more stalker carriers can get spectrum for better coverage. With the new roaming agreement between Sprint and regional carriers, this means that they can band together and strand against Verizon and AT&T.

Posted via Android Central App

It's a bad thing because the government is hurting more people. Most people in the US have VZW or AT&T. The more spectrum they have and use the better service those customers get.

A duopoly is never good for consumers. Period. Only now, because of moves by TMobile, are Verizon and AT&T starting to create more consumer-friendly wireless plans.

The more spectrum that Sprint and TMobile purchase and utilize, the more competitive they can get, and the better off the industry is as a whole.

In your opinion. Do you have a degree in economics? If a duopoly isn't good then maybe a quadopoly wouldn't be good either. Right now VZW and AT&T are more expensive because they offer better coverage. You get what you pay for. If Sprint and T-Mobile had more cell towers than they overhead costs would increase and they would pass that cost increase to consumers.

So what your saying is everybody should be like you and just go with what you say? Is that about right?

IDK... Pointing out the ridiculousness of your argument seems pretty appropriate.

A duopology isn't much better than a monopoly, since there still isn't much incentive for companies to "compete". Notice that, since TMo started their whole "uncarrier" program, now we're seeing Verizon actually talking about offering to drop the subsidy cost from their plans if you buy your phone outright. Things like that are terrific for consumers, since it pushes the "big guys" to try and offer consumers a better deal. I would love to see the wireless subsidy thing die. It has been one of the biggest rip-offs to the American consumer ever, mostly because it made everyone *think* they were getting a good deal.

The problem now though is most consumers go I to the store want to get 4 lines for $160 a month and get 4 iPhones for $150 each. Which isn't the way it works. 90% of people still get subsidies. They are just called Verizon Edge, AT&T Next, Sprint EasyPay, or T-Mobile Jump. Most people don't save up $600 for a new phone every two years. Subsidies are what made our wireless I dusty as big as it is. If T-Mobile didn't have subsidies 5 or 10 years ago they would already be out of business. Nobody would pay $500 for a flip phone.

You're right about people not wanting to spend the money up front. I'd still love to see more of a financing model, rather than the subsidy model we have now. At least that way the cost is transparent and you will, eventually actually *finish* paying for the phone. That's what TMobile has done. The problem with how Verizon and AT&T tried to copy that model is that they're *still* charging you the subsidy on top of the financing cost.

Most people don't even realize *how* much they're paying for the phone, since the subsidy cost is "hidden" in the monthly contact price.

You don't know the VZW and AT&T plans do you. They changed it and now the subsidy is gone. 4 lines for $160 a month. And AT&T even let people who has done contracts before they subsidy change get rid of their subsidy because they were existing customers. So if you signed up in December you were paying full monthly price but in February they separated the subsidy and those that signed up in December could change to the new plan without a subsidy.

The problem I have is that now VZW and AT&T and T-Mobile and Sprint are kinda false advertising. The commercials pay x amount of dollars which is far lower than it has been before. So $160 a month for 4 lines. Sounds like an amazing deal. But people don't realize that to get phones it's $2000 up front or $100 a month.

So basically you have a problem with the carriers unbundling the cost of hardware with the cost of service? If you choose to finance your phone, you get the benefit of a small down payment just like with a contract, and when your phone is paid off you get billed for only the service portion. This is a huge benefit to customers, with contracts you are "stuck" paying off your phone no matter how long you have had it. People who aren't ignorant can see past the low device cost on contracts for what they really are; a baited fishing line used to snag you up into an expensive 2 year deal

Where do you get the idea that I don't like separating the phone from the service? I'm saying that the average person is too dumb to understand how it works and is going to get confused. Maybe in the future after being told his it works time and time again they'll get it. But I still I people who don't know how tax works on the cell phone.

I agree with Mimic and its exactly what I came here to post. AT&T and Verizon have ENOUGH coverage. And don't say that if they get the waves they will put them to use in rural areas with little or no coverage, because they won't. They will just use it in big city areas to make what is already fast enough even faster. Give it to the lower ends of the cell phone industry. They need more help for folks that can't afford huge cell phone bills every month. I was once in that category and I know what its like to have to walk to the other end of the street to make a phone call.

Who are you to say they have enough COVERAGE? . I pay for service with AT&T and the more spectrum they can get the better service I get and over 100 million more people.

I wish someone besides Verizon and att would get some decent coverage. If tmo's coverage was not so incredibly awful, I would love to switch. Sadly I am stuck with Verizon until someone else gets some decent coverage.

Posted via Android Central App

If T-Mobile had the number of subscribers and coverage VZW and AT&T had they would be charging the same price as the big two.

Far too many variables in this scenario to jump to that conclusion. Keep in mind tmos network is primarily made of high band spectrum, which is cheaper than and has enormous capacity when compared to low band, which is what att and vow primarily use. This gives tmo an inherent advantage for providing value, as their primary spectrum is lower in cost and provides greater capacity than a comparable slice of low band spectrum. By keeping this model, if they build a small nationwide network of low band as a fall back to the aws/pcs band to extend reach and penetrate buildings they will be able to provide comparable coverage and performance to the big 2 with significantly lower overhead

I'm torn on this. On one hand, I want the smaller carriers like T-Mobile to get low frequency spectrum, but on the other hand I have Verizon and would love for their rural and in-building coverage to improve.

I think you are missing the fact that they do not have deep enough pockets to go head to head with AT&T.
The issue we have with Verizon and at&t is they do not have any real competition.
I have on love for either one as they have been gouging customers for years unless you want to explain why in the USA we have among the world's most expensive mobile services and amount the poorest of service as well.
Or the fact that things like iInternet none of them compete unless a disruption moves in. Heck an example of a massive disruption that you should remember is email. Back before Gmail free inboxes where 2-3 megs in size. To get 10 megs required a paid service. Gmail comes around and very quickly we where getting 1+ gigs of free space.
THat distribution caused that. Where Google fiber has gone in across the board people there have gotten faster Internet and cheaper prices.

We need that in cell service. The big 2 would if they could just out bid everyone else to prevent that from happening. Banning them to 1/3 max forces them to risk and deal with competition

First off your analogy with Google for fiber doesn't fit this argument. Google offered better service for more money. $70 a month for fiber Internet. Which is more expensive than DSL and cable Internet but it's a better value because you get more for your money.
So you think that AT&T and VERIZON, which are solely American companies have more money than Softbank and Deutsche Telekom which are international companies?

International companies does not mean they have deeper pockets or bigger. Verizon and at&t are bigger and richer than those other 2.
As for Google fiber guess what at the 70 a month level that includes TV. Cheaper than what I pay for worse service.
Simple fact is we need a massive disruption to the American cell market as unsurprisingly you passed over the entire argument. We need a disruption and it will come from a smaller player.

Why do people argue over carriers? You guys do realize that every one of these company's couldn't care less about you and every single one of them will pick your pockets completely empty given the opportunity. Is not a matter of if just when and how. That even guess for T-mo who many seem to have a crush on. Just give them time. None of them are good or bad frankly. They are just businesses and as such taking your money is their job. You find the one who gives you the best service at the best price at the levels you need in your operating area at this time and that's the one you go with. When that carrier no longer meets your need you switch. Econ 101. Why hate or have a love affair?

Armadillo, the other white meat.

I'm glad. I just wish a company like Google would start to bid. I'm tired of getting nickeled and dimed by Verizon and AT&T who always offer these bad good deals to consumers. They make billions upon billions of dollars and they over charge for everything. They load your phones up with useless apps that most people do not want, and then try to charge you for that crappy service. They nickel and dime you for all the data they can. They never pass on any savings to the customer. All they do is raise prices and try to screw you over on everything from home internet to your cell phone. They basically have monopolized the market and there needs to be some new bigger better players. I'm not a conspirator or anything, but I swear AT&T places software in your phone that disconnects from the wifi even though the Wi-Fi shows in the status bar, but often when you look in the pull down it doesn't show it connected at all which in turn eats up your data giving them more money. I thought maybe it was just certain phones but it actually happens on different brands of phones. But when I've had Nexus devices, it's never happened. When I've called them about my phone is showing the wifi in status bar but when I look i'm actually NOT connected to my wifi, they told me it might be my phone brand and then I tell them I've actually got more than one brand of phone and it only happens on your network. They suddenly offered me a $20 credit on my bill. Why would they do that if they didn't feel responsible? Now all of a sudden the phones don't do that anymore...after I called in. Which made me believe they were purposely doing that to the phones. If they are doing that to millions of people, then millions of people are getting over charged for data and probably don't understand why they keep going over there data limit. It's because AT&T is probably is turning off their wifi even though they think they're actually on WiFi because of it showing in their status bar. The best way to tell is when you pull down your shade it should show a permanent you're "connected to.." I believe phone manufacturers started putting that into the phone so that the customer would know. Turn off your mobile data if you don't see it in your pull down shade, and if you can't get any internet then more than likely they're doing it.

Posted via Android Central App

That's fine AT&T, don't participate and let other providers become more competitive with your offering. That makes soooo much more sense. % <-- I'm playing the worlds smallest ASCII violin for your troubles.