T-Mobile is coming out swinging as it begins its hunt for more spectrum, telling the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to overhaul potential spectrum auction rules that could see smaller carriers squeezed out by larger rivals. Kathleen Ham, T-Mobile’s Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs stated this week that “Legislation pending in Congress would effectively preclude the FCC from considering existing spectrum holdings in determining the qualifications for participation in auctions,” and went even further by saying she believes these rules end up limiting bidders only to the big names like AT&T and Verizon.
“Eliminating the FCC’s authority to establish competitive rules, just as Congress is poised to authorize significant new auctions, could discourage participation by bidders other than the largest carriers, ironically driving down auction revenues and potentially undermining the very economic development Congress hopes to gain through its legislation” Kathleen Ham, VP of Federal Regulatory Affairs, T-Mobile USA
There is little question that T-Mobile needs additional spectrum as they begin an uphill battle to reclaim relevancy in a tight US wireless market. It’s been estimated that T-Mobile will need to spend close to $9 billion to bring its network up to par and it’s because of this that Ham is preemptively speaking out about the FCC’s involvement in upcoming auctions.
“The FCC has the experience and expertise to ensure that each auction is structured to promote robust competition, both in bidding and service provision,” Ham concludes, “and results in the most efficient and effective use of the spectrum.”
If the FCC were to consider T-Mobile’s concerns and adopt changes to FCC spectrum auctions, the real question becomes — where does T-Mobile get the money to purchase additional spectrum?