T-Mobile, Dish, Sprint and others teaming up to plead for spectrum auction changes


Not long ago, T-Mobile’s head of Federal Regulatory Affairs, spoke up regarding the unfair method used to auction off low band spectrum. The issue is that, as it stands, the FCC likes to sell off large chunks of spectrum covering wide areas. This suits the big guys fine, but for anyone who isn’t Verizon or AT&T, it’s a pain in the backside – to put it mildly.

As a follow-up, Magenta has teamed with Sprint, Dish, C Spire – and other organizations like the Competitive Carriers Association and Public Knowledge – to lobby the FCC to adopt a rules change. The upcoming 600MHz auctions are of high importance to many carriers, but as it stands now, only Verizon and AT&T will get a workable amount of the available spectrum, and the already have plenty of low-band.

“We are a group of wireless carriers, industry associations, public interest organizations, and a labor union that recognize the fundamental importance of spectrum holdings policies to maintaining a competitive mobile wireless market. Two carriers currently control over two thirds of critical low-frequency spectrum,1 and they have both the resources and the incentive to prevent competitors from gaining access to this vital resource in the upcoming incentive auction.”

Outlined in the filing are various principles which focus on the need for aggregation limits on spectrum below 1GHz. It also touches on the need for clear limits to be put in place before the incentive auctions, the need to address the state of the market and a weighting policy for all spectrum henceforth.

In short, the smaller carriers who want to be able to get their hands on lower frequency airwaves to improve their networks, want better and fairer conditions to do so. They, and a number of companies who stand for a fair and competitive market, are pleading for things to change. Let’s hope it’s successful.

It’s broken down simply in to 4 subjects and is well worth your read if you have the time. It’s submitted and signed by T-Mobile’s SVP of Federal Regulatory Affairs, Kathleen O’Brien Ham, as well as Jeffrey Blum (SVP, Dish Network Corporation), Eric B. Graham (SVP, C Spire Wireless), Caressa D. Bennet (General Counsel, Rural Wireless Association), Lawrence Krevor (VP Legal, Sprint), Cathy Sloan (VP, Computer and Communications Industry Association), Rebecca Murphy Thompson (General Counsel, Competitive Carrier Association), Ellen Stutzman (Writers Guild of America), Harold Feld (SVP, Public Knowledge), Jill Canfield (General Counsel, NTCA) and Matthew Wood (Free Press).

Source: FCC
Via: WirelessWeek

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  • Willie D

    I don’t care who gets spectrum as long as it isn’t Sprint. They haven’t done crap with the low band they currently have nor the high band. So they should get ZERO auction rewards other than a pat on the back making it fair for T-MOBILE to reap the low band reward fairness.

    • Eric

      If T-Mobile gets a good 2×10 or 2×20 nationwide slice of the 600 MHz spectrum, then T-Mobile will have more coverage than AT&T/Verizon, provided that T-Mobile builds more rural towers.

      • Fr0stTr0n

        But what would that even equate to in real world data transmission number? People arn’t gonna fly with just 5mbps down speeds vs coverage

        • Eric

          Sorry, I meant 2×10 and 2×20 LTE, which gives you ~73 Mbps download for the 2×10 and ~147 Mbps download for the 2×20, both are the maximum speeds.

        • Fr0stTr0n

          Theoretical i’m assuming? There is always overhead, packet loss, error correction, resending and everything else that can happen to wireless signals.

        • Eric

          Yes, but reaching those speeds, even close to them, can happen.

      • bucdenny

        Funny, T-Mobile have 10 billion to buy such? Dream on. Don’t live in the fantasy world. No way they have the money to outbid duopoly to get 2×10

        • Eric

          Okay, maybe T-Mobile doesn’t have ten billion dollars, but the FCC will most likely “level the playing field” and only allow the big two to purchase a small amount of spectrum, since the big two already behemoths of low-frequency spectrum. This would allow T-Mobile to grab a ton of 600 MHz, provided the cash.

          I’m also sure with T-Mobile’s Un-carrier offerings, T-Mobile can gain enough cash to purchase this.

        • Eric

          Already have*

        • kalel33

          Verizon has already stated they are spending 10 Billion dollars in upgrades on their network this year. They can do that because they made 19.8B dollars just last quarter. Verizon isn’t just sitting around on their network as is. T-mobile would have to expand their coverage at least 3 times the coverage it has now to even sniff competition with the big 2.

        • KingCobra

          Not as much as you think. If T-Mobile acquires a nationwide slice of say 10mhz of 600 spectrum, they could use it to eliminate the building penetration issues in urban markets and slowly but surely begin to expand into areas where they currently have ‘no service’. T-Mobile wouldn’t have to spend 10 billion building because they service less than half of the number of customers that Verizon does right now. Most of what Verizon is building now is due to congestion issues with its current LTE network.

        • kalel33

          Customer size doesn’t make a difference in this case, because the areas that T-mobile needs to start covering are not where people live but where people travel through. That’s their Achilles’s heal.

        • bucdenny

          How? Offer more debt? Let me ask you, why did T-Mobile and Sprint sit out on the 700Mhz auction? Because they had no cash. You cannot magically raise 10 billion if your not profitable. We all know duopoly will spend at least 10 billion in the 600mhz auction. You better hope the government will level the playing field. What is they didn’t?

          Best hope is Sprint and T-Mobile partnered or joined forces. They are not making money to sustain keeping up with the big two. Remember it cost billions to keep network going and up to par with the big two. Now somehow need 5-10 billion to at least try to get some of the 600mhz action.

  • S. Ali

    Should have just “lobbied” like ATT and Verizon did and bought off the FCC. I wonder why they aren’t pushing for AWS-3 rules changes as well.

    • Jay J. Blanco

      Thats True but the FCC should have been changed the auction rule. Their so happy with they pockets being fat. T-Mobile focus is more coverage right now. They have enough AWS right now, they can worry about that later.

      • gadget_hero

        It will be fun to see how AT&T and Verizon respond when they can’t rest on their bigger coverage networks. My prediction is Sprint and T-Mobile swap positions as 3rd and 4th carrier between 4Q2015-3Q2016.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          I think it’s going to be earlier then that. Lol

        • gadget_hero

          I was being conservative, plus I think T-Mobile said full EDGE to LTE upgrades(15K towers) target competition was 4Q2014, but if fiber build out slips it could finish up 1Q2015.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          Oh understandable :-)

        • Kidney_Thief

          From what I understood, they were relying on the Verizon and AT&T bringing fiber to the tower first in most cases, so there may not be very much fiber to build out on T-Mobile’s part, which also saves them tons of money and time.

        • DirkDigg1er

          I doubt that. If T-mobile can’t overtake Sprint by 2Q2015 it won’t happen. Although Sprint and T-mobile trade being the worst carrier every 3 years, Sprint’s network build out and international resources will put them ahead from 2015 and onward.

        • gadget_hero

          It really just depends on how things go, considering the fact Sprint has a lot more customers T-Mobile is generating almost as much cash as Sprint. Sprint is burning cash fast, SoftBank spent more money than they originally planned due to the DISH counter-bids, and SoftBank spend some on upping their share count. Their cell sites (at least in Nashville) are hammered, at night in a area that I know barely has Sprint users the network struggles to pump 5 Mbps. Sprint has been touting its horde of 2.5GHz spectrum since 2008, I know what it can do, however I know how Sprint executes. And SoftBank seems to have its own coverage/pricing issues in Japan. For one Japan cell prices were surprisingly higher than I would have thought and people complain about coverage, for a country so small that does not bode well for the USA.

  • nd5

    CAM or PantherLady… can you do something about this sprint advertisement that is covering up the top part of the comments section! Thanks!

    • thepanttherlady

      I swear I thought I was the only one having this problem! I don’t have access to the same things that Cam does so he’s going to have to take a look at it when he’s on again. :(

      • nd5

        Hahahaha… I probably wouldn’t care quite as much if it wasn’t one of those ridiculous “Framily” ads!

        • bob90210

          What’s wrong with the Framily plan ads? I know it’s Sprint and most of us are T-Mobile frans but we must frace the fracts. Running a site can be expensive if you fractor in the bandwidth and hosting costs. The ads pay for this site and we must be frair to Cam and company so they can pay the bills.

        • nd5

          Frantastic post, my fRiend.

        • philyew

          Yes, very frunny…

    • Paul

      AdBlock Plus, I’m using it on Chrome, blocks it. I did see it on another computer, and it is WAY disruptive…and Sprint.

      • thepanttherlady

        They block us from installing anything on our computers at work. :/ It’s even more annoying on a phone.

        • bob90210

          The block you from installing things on your phone at work? That is pretty annoying.

        • thepanttherlady

          No, it’s a personal phone. They do block certain websites and streaming for employees that use their WiFi though.

          Because I normally read the comments via email, the nuisance of the large ad only bothers me when I post my own comment, not in reply to someone else. It’s not very often that I do so so it’s something I just live with.

  • Fr0stTr0n

    FCC better not let the red V bully *aka Verizon* buy out this spectrum, I would cry monopoly if that happens.

    • Kidney_Thief

      I’d be more worried about AT&T, honestly. They have a lot more spectrum than Verizon and they’re in talks to acquire even more. The gap between AT&T and Verizon is growing rapidly.

      • Myles Douglas

        Yeah, AT&T has AWS that they don’t use, 2.3 GHZ that they don’t use. Plus the spectrum they just received from buying Cricket. All of the spectrum that I just mentioned isn’t operated by AT&T at all!

  • Paul

    I’m thinking that the amount of spectrum a company already has should factor into this. For example; Sprint has some unused spectrum. Also, Dish has spectrum it isn’t using and doesn’t even play in the mobile market.

    There certainly needs to be some changes made to prevent hording or companies buying that aren’t going to use it.

    • Jay Holm

      Precisely! Both ATT & Vzn combined have nearly all the 700 spectrum, let this new low-band spectrum be for other carriers (*T-Mobile*)!

  • James

    All government organizations, whether it’s the FCC or any other entity, always assist the stronger against the weak. Even when it comes to bigger corps vs smaller corps. Crony capitalism at its finest, brought to you by big government.

  • Ryan Wilkins

    Why does the Writers Guild of America care about spectrum allocation?

    • bob90210

      If AT&T and Verizon hold all or much of the low band spectrum then they will control much of the content that people use on their phones. Since net neutrality is no more, they will demand more more money from the content producers and thereby reduce the amount of money to the producers (e.g. WGA). This is already happening with broadband internet access (see Comcast and Netflix) and it will happen on cellular internet access.

      • Jay Holm

        Yikes! Good point!

  • MdRuckus

    What difference does it make if they break up spectrum. AT&T and Verizon will still have way more cash to buy. They will just buy smaller areas, but still all the spectrum. TMO and Sprint can’t compete either way. It’s all about the money and TMO and Sprint are strapped.

    • superg05


      • kalel33


        • JB

          I DON’T KNOW!!!!!

        • Austin


    • KingCobra

      The minimum cost of broken up blocks is less than large areas so that way the smaller carriers will be able to acquire some.

    • Fabian Cortez

      The smaller carriers are also lobbying for spectrum caps.

  • Moby

    AT&T and Verizon should get priority. They have the best networks and would put the spectrum to the best use.

    T-Mobile to this day still has AWS spectrum that it purchased many years ago that it has failed to use. They should be ashamed and embarrassed.

    Instead of protesting about spectrum they haven’t even gotten yet, it’s time to focus on the spectrum they do own. In the meantime AT&T and Verizon will do the heavy-lifting just as they always have.

    • nd5

      You’re kidding, right? AT&T and Verizon have stockpiled a ton of spectrum that remains unused. And they have done that because… survey says…. they had the $$ and they wanted nothing more than to stifle competition. So yeah, let’s give them more spectrum that they can sequester away for years.

    • KingCobra

      Is this a joke? The reason they have the best networks is because they already have the most low band spectrum (and even then they are hoarding and not even using a lot of it). The reason T-Mobile and other smaller carriers want this spectrum is so that they can build out comparable networks to AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile does have AWS nationwide but in case you haven’t realized, it costs over 3 times as much to cover a market with AWS as compared to sub-1GHz spectrum and AWS also has worse building penetration.

    • Jared

      You might want to research and understand a topic before making suck bold statements. You made a fool of yourself.

  • J

    i dislike gov interference as much as the next guy but something should be done if they truly want 4 major carries to stick around. if you look at tmo edge coverage map(which will be all lte by mid 2015) they will have decent rural coverage and any new spectrum won will really put them in a very competitive position.(good for vz and att customers). like others said internet control(net neutrality issues) by the big two in mobile will ruin the internet for the 99% who cant afford to keep up. hope the fcc plays ball to show that they care a little bit instead of just getting taking more lobby money for lobster and pasta. we all see what tmo has done. att and vz are changing policies monthly to shut tmo up. if all was gravy for the big 2 they would just stay the course, but they are slowly being forced to change which is great for all.

  • Chong

    Can we also ask the government to do something about the cable monopoly ???

  • Aurizen

    is there a date the FCC will change the spectrum rules? Because this definitely needs to change.

  • lagurl323

    i want tmobile to improve there coverage in los angeles i was blaming my unlocked nexus 5 thinkin it had antenna problems when i didnt get service in LA fitness ,some malls ,home depot many more stores etc.. with my tmobile sim ,till someone told me buy an att go phone sim since its already unlocked i did buy one at kmart now have full bars in those places i mentioned above w the att sim and lte deep in buildings same phone just running on att..

    • Serge

      T-Mobile cannot improve indoor coverage. AT&T and Verizon bought away all the spectrum that is good at penetrating building. The FCC need to change the spectrum auction rules so that big companies cannot buy the majority of 600MHz spectrum.

      Your $60 a month now goes to support duopoly. This is exactly why AT&T and Verizon are going to overbid T-Mobile and Sprint no matter how high the price unless there are limits on how much spectrum they can buy.

    • Brad C

      The nexus does have terrible reception. You just got “better” service on AT&T due to them having the 850MHz license there. I use T-Mobile in Los Angeles all the time with no issues on my iPhone 5s or my Note 2

      • Melissa Cardenas

        what part of la im in 90022 ELa and my g2 from tmobile and moms iphone 5s goes to no service in lots of buildings while my mans nexus 5 on att has full bars in the same building or store ..

      • bucdenny

        Last time I checked Sprint started deploying SMR 800mhz license nationwide excluding IBEZ zone. Los Angeles has many of Sprint’s SMR 800mhz. Finally we have real competition to duopoly.
        Keep on supporting the duopoly that keeps prices so high.

  • Myles Douglas

    Verizon and AT&T don’t need any more low band spectrum. In fact, they are having the exact opposite of other carriers are having. T-Mobile is having coverage issues due to AWS, but Verizon and AT&T are having capacity issues due to low band spectrum.


      Really? I think you may want to research that a little bit more. Frequency has nothing to do with capacity. Speed and coverage maybe. But not capacity. They have capacity issues due to having so many customers and not enough back haul bandwidth because they are being stingy.