T-Mobile Tells FCC To Revamp Spectrum Auctions, Level Playing Field

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?



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  • Trapdroid

    Yeah the real thought to this whole article is where Tmobile gne get the MONEY???? By raising prices duh

    • nd5

      How about an IPO? 

  • ogopogo

    I’m glad that this issue is finally being brought up. Vz and AT&T have acquired spectrum (basically hoarding) to squeeze out everyone else. In AT&T’s case they have a ton of unused spectrum but indicate that they are short of it (hence their attempt to acquire T-Mobile).

    From what I’ve seen, Vz is no different. They are sitting on a ton of unused spectrum for the same reason – squeeze out the competition. The FCC should mandate that anyone bidding on spectrum needs to submit plans for that spectrum to be realized within a certain time period – otherwise you can’t bid, or you have to return the spectrum.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not that they are sitting on spectrum, they want spectrum that they can actually use. AT&T wanted AWS to help with LTE, because they had little of it. AT&T really wants 700 more then anything, so they don’t have to rely on AWS for LTE, which has less spread, and worse penetration.

  • Tbyrne

    T-Mobile. The little company that could.

    • Anonymous

      T-Mobile. The little company that could but didn’t and never will because now they can’t.

      Isn’t that right, Tbyrne?

      • Tbyrne

        No gouvy, that’s not right. We all here know you’d get your jollies in seeing T-Mobile fold as a company but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Instead of Joneses for a T-Mobile failure, why don’t you tell your two buddies Randall & Dan your covers been blown and you want to go home. Okay gouvy?

        • Anonymous

          I can honestly say I’d like to see the current regime fall to rebuild itself into something much much much better. Also, I can’t say I know who those 2 individuals are and also there is nothing to cover up. I have made it clear before that I think the current state of t-mobile is a big fail. I just like to reply to your posts because you have clearly drank the magenta kool aid and are blindly buying in to the idea that this company holds really competitive weight in the wireless industry. You have every right to have hope and defen what you believe in, just make sure you are being realistic for your own sake, byrnie.

        • Tbyrne

          Nothing to blindly buy into gouvy. You no doubt wanted the acquisition to go through so your boss, Randall, could destroy what T-Mobile has successfully been doing for years. Providing award winning customer service at an exceptional value. Yeah you would’ve liked a much much much better company like your boss Randall is running but you didn’t get your way, now did you gouvy?

        • Anonymous

          oh…. you really are one of the sheeple, aren’t you??

          I’ve worked in RF and telco in general for many years so naturally i find this subject matter fascinating.  Also i enjoy picking on sheeple much like yourself that stand behind a company that doesn’t have a real competitive future.  Naturally if i’m ever proved wrong (T-MOBILE ACTUALLY LEAVES THE NUMBER 4 SPOT BY DOING BETTER) i’ll be man enough to eat my words and wear the egg on my face proudly.  I don’t work for AT&T either so you can relax with the randall stephenson thing even though i own a healthy amount of shares in AT&T.  I do however work for a company that deals with all 4 major telco’s and this is how i’ve based my opinions that t-mobiles is being run by total morons and it shows.  

          I did want it to fold but only to restructure and come back to do something better, so don’t completely misunderstand my projected negativity (it’s not completely negative at the core,).

          Just please for the love of all things good, stop being sucking on mama t-mobiles magenta teeeet. 

        • Tbyrne

          Hi gouvy. It’s easy to label someone when you’re trying to cover up your own misdeeds. You state to have a “healthy” amount of AT&T stock but claim not to know who Randall is. It’s not really that you “enjoy” picking on people, but to cover up what your goal is here. Bad mouth a company long enough and some “sheeple”, as you call them are bound to follow you. Not me though. I know your game gouvy. Nice try!

        • Tbyrne

          Hi gouvy. It’s easy to label someone when you’re trying to cover up your own misdeeds. You state to have a “healthy” amount of AT&T stock but claim not to know who Randall is. It’s not really that you “enjoy” picking on people, but to cover up what your goal is here. Bad mouth a company long enough and some “sheeple”, as you call them are bound to follow you. Not me though. I know your game gouvy. Nice try!

  • Minioninnc

    I vote for this as well. Although, most likely I would still end up with only EDGE. :)

  • I’m all for it. Though I’m in an area benefiting from AT&T’s spectrum they handed over so I doubt it’ll benefit me until they have a full fledged LTE network in play I would still support anything that makes the industry as a whole more competitive.

  • Anonymous

    Release more spectrum below 1Ghz for better penetration.

  • Wow

    Go tmobile!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rclubine

    This is funny but this the amount of money that they will get because of the failed merger.

    • I*dont*like*spam

      It was a takeover, not merge. Merge means they combine the company. Takeover means they buy the company and replace EVERTHING. Get it right


      It was a takeover, not merge. Merge means they combine the company. Takeover means they buy the company and replace EVERTHING. Get it right

  • Wow

    Even exellelent coverage areas can’t penetrate thru buldings

  • JR69

    There need to be rules in place that state that any carrier to purchases, wins spectrum have to start implementing and using that spectrum in a specified amount of time or risk loosing it.  Because there is a limited amount of spectrum the BIG two can purchase or win it at auction because of their deep pockets but don’t intend to use it for years if at all.  It’s a strategy used to keep competition at bay. 

  • BigMixxx

    It’s all intentional….

    ATT and Verizon will buy up space and sit on it.  Verizon especially (I realize that now…someone pointed it out to me)  It’s valuable space because it makes money by not making money for anyone else.  It’s free, because there is no tax on that undeveloped space.  Verizon bought spectrum and has yet to use it; THEN they bought more spectrum from the Cable companies that were in the same bid, and will yet to use it.  It’s all in 20 mhz swaths of prime virgin bandwidth. 

    It’s not going to be fair, ever, but DT does not have to cash on hand to pony up for a lot of spectrum. 
    There are some things that are becoming more apparent to me, every day…

    HOWEVER, there must be something special about the AWS spectrum as apposed to the other footprints, (except for the 700 mhz spectrum).  Is it that it’s the only other spectrum footprint that covers the country? Is it that there is an internation presence with aws, or is it that it’s a magic band for pairing.

  • Anonymous

    Im glad tmobile is attacking this issue as well. The fcc killed the buyout bc of competition mainly…..not leveling the playing field for spectrum auctions would go against that same methodology. If tmo could gain spectrum at a reasonable price, money mY not become an issue. They could always partner up with another company such as dish.

  • ONe of the main things holding up the UK LTE spectrum auctions was debates over how to structure the auctions fairly. 
    It’s a big deal though and everyone should have a chance. One way would be to  limiting how much any one company can win, or to specify a minimum number of stakeholders who should win (i.e unless there are at least 10 different winners of something, no-one gets anything) It’s a problem though and although T-Mobile have huge selfinterest in this, it’s also a valid point (same could eb said for sprint when the AT&T-T-mobile deal was going on).
    I hope the FCC gets this right – things like this can shape the wireless market for the future.

  • Listen up wireless underdogs! T-Mobile, Sprint, MetroPCS and all other carriers! It’s time to huddle up, and ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK. We need to kick AT&T and Verizon OFF their pedestal! It’s time to make an even playing field for competition and our economy! Sprint Nextel, it’s your turn to speak up to the FCC. Let’s get this party started now!


    • Anonymous

      AT&T and Verizon together have enough spectrum to destroy every other carrier in the U.S.

      If you managed to piss them both off, and they teamed up, there’d be no more carriers other then AT&T and Verizon, and… yeah.

  • just passing thru

    In an election year, I just wonder how it would play out, that President Obama allowed his FCC Chairman to decide the outcome of spectrum auctions.   Does this not go against the idea of a “Free Market Economy”  I just think the GOP would have a field day with this. 

    • Everything has limits. A market can’t be TOO free or else the most powerful corporation will take advantage of it. It’s that simple…

  • GinaDee

    T-Mobile is funny.  For years and years they underinvested on purpose because they were too cheap.  They had the opportunity to bid in the 700 MHz auction but they failed to do so. 

    They had the opportunity to buy regional providers with spectrum rich assets but they failed to do so as well. 

    They recently sold themselves (unsuccessfully) to AT&T knowing full well they’d be giving a larger carrier the very spectrum they are crying foul about. 

    The T-Mobile tag line:  “Makes sense if you don’t think about it,” comes to mind. 

  • Anonymous

    Always late to the party…. Did these guys finally wake up and realize what they needed to do???

    From the disaster that followed the purchase of aws spectrum in 1996 and the gov taking forever to clear out of it, you would think these guys would try to stay ahead of the pack while they started to catch up.

    I really think that having a parent company over seas that seems out of touch with tmo USA is killing them slowly.

    I wish they could separate, do an IPOD and get real exectives and management that have a board and shareholders to answer too. That’s the one Key element to saving tmo and guaranteeing it a good future. Get rid of DT and figure something else out.

  • Anonymous

    The baby bells in the 80s got 850mhz spectrum for practically nothing. They have been using that spectrum to increase their profits and consumer base. Having large amounts of sub 1Ghz spectrum allowed them to have better coverage their their PCS counter part for less. To cover the same area as one 850 tower, you would need 4 PCS towers, and even then the 850 tower will still have better building penetration. In the early 00, coverage and building penetration were key, so ATT and Verizon just gobbled up customers. and those profits allowed them to buy more spectrum and just sit on it. 

    Only way to make it competitive is to free up some sub 1ghz spectrum for the small carriers.  Sprint is lucky that Nextel had some 800mhz or they would be in the same ship as Tmobile. I do not think we will ever see tmobile or sprint leave the 3/4 ranks, but if they are able to get their hands on sub 1ghz spectrum, then we will atleast see the numbers become more equal, which is great for consumers.