AT&T says it may not participate in spectrum auction if FCC rules are adopted


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler recently proposed that his agency set aside a certain amount of spectrum in an upcoming auction for smaller carriers once the bidding reaches a certain threshold. The proposal is meant to help make those smaller operators stronger, but not everyone is pleased with Wheeler’s plan.

AT&T has threatened to not take part in the spectrum auction if the FCC Chairman’s proposed rules are actually put into effect. Joan Walsh, AT&T’s VP of regulatory matters, said that AT&T may have to spend its money on other spectrum opportunities that would allow it to strengthen its LTE network. Because the FCC hopes to raise enough cash to pay the TV broadcasters that gave up the airwaves and also contribute toward a $7 billion public safety network, AT&T likely hopes that its threat will put an end to the proposed rules.

Every U.S. carrier seems to be seeking out additional wireless spectrum for their networks as they continue to make their footprints larger and their service faster. AT&T is no different, which makes it seem somewhat unlikely that it would opt not to participate in this upcoming spectrum auction. Still, it’s worth a shot for AT&T to at least try and prevent Wheeler’s proposal from being put into action.

It’s expected that the other FCC commissioners will vote on Wheeler’s proposed rules at a meeting scheduled for May 15.

Thanks, Johnta!

Via Reuters

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  • Ky

    I call BS. It can’t afford to stand aside while its competitors scoop valuable spectrum.

    • Kidney_Thief

      AT&T has made several spectrum acquisitions recently, particularly low-band spectrum, and their spectrum portfolio now averages around 160 MHz to Verizons 120 MHz. They have a TON of spectrum, so if they pass on the broadcast auction and pick up some AWS, they’d be more than set for a long time.

  • Paul

    “AT&T has threatened to not take part in the spectrum auction”
    Is it s “threat” or a promise. PLEASE be the latter of the two.

  • James

    AT&T, nobody is forcing you to participate, in fact nobody cares about your decision. This should not affect FCC decision because there are a lot of other buyers, not AT&T only. God, they are acting like the a rich kid who gets mad when he doesn’t get what he wants.

    • Kidney_Thief

      It’s a double-edged sword, unfortunately. Without AT&T on board, the FCC may be concerned that they won’t meet revenue expectations. More revenue means more spectrum to be auctioned, and that’s good for everybody.

      • UMA_Fan

        I think the FCC would only start to be concerned if Verizon said they wouldn’t participate as well

      • GinaDee

        Exactly. That’s what the kids don’t understand.

        Everything from spectrum bands to devices are influenced by company’s like AT&T. The FCC better be careful. Just because T-Mobile buys spectrum doesn’t mean they’ll be able to afford to deploy it in a timely manner.

        And Sprint with their 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum isn’t hurting for airwaves either despite their claims otherwise.

        T-Mobile never participated in the 700 MHz auction when they could have. If they buy 600 MHz spectrum they should be forced to build out that spectrum in rural areas within 1 years time or lose it.

        • vrm

          Their urgency to upgrade equipment on all cell sites indicates that they are planning to. The upgraded equipment and backhaul will place them in a position to quickly deploy the 600 mhz. Time frame for upgrading 2G is mid 2015- not a coincidence.

        • maximus1901

          Why are you comparing 2.5ghz to 600/700 MHz?

        • philyew

          I agree that the potential revenue issue for the FCC shouldn’t be overlooked. AT&T know that one of the main objectives in the FCC mission is to optimize revenue from these auctions and their absence would have a major impact.

          I do however think that your judgment of TM is harsh regarding their non-participation in the 700MHz auction and your one year deadline for 600MHz deployment is both unrealistic and unfair, given that all the other major carriers have stockpiled spectrum.

          You are not allowing for the fact that at the time of the 700MHz auction in 2008, TM was still waiting on the ability to deploy its $4 billion investment in AWS which it had made in 2006, but was kept waiting for two years while the previous occupants took their sweet time clearing out.

          With no ability to generate revenue from their previous investment, and timed as it was at the start of the global recession, I can understand why Deutsche Telekom balked.

        • Kidney_Thief

          You hit the nail right on the head.

        • jeremyvbk

          With low band spectrum it should be deployed pretty quickly. They should be forced to have a a deadline. So i agree with you on that. It isnt necessarily sprint isnt bleeding for spectrum, it is they need more low band spectrum to expand easier. It would require sprint more towers to build on 1900, and 800smr is a very limited piece. So 600 on LTE would be deployed arou d the time volte would be. So 600LTE would be perfect for volte.

  • Fr0stTr0n

    AT&T, just please shut up

  • John Miles

    Bastards. So glad I switched from them.

  • I wish Wheeler would issue a public statement that read, “Lulz.”

  • RefarmAllPCSnowplease

    Ok fine.

    Now how do we make Verizon not participate?

  • Deadeye37

    Ok. See ya later.

  • Alex Zapata

    I see no problem with this.

  • Thanks AT&T, you just confirmed Wheelers proposal is the right thing to do!

  • superg05

    deuce’s bi@th

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    Don’t believe AT&T’s lies

  • UMA_Fan

    They are bluffing. They are panicking over Tmobile getting some low band spectrum. Their plan is to use their financial clout to outbid Tmobile out of decent chunks of spectrum. If the FCC has rules protecting smaller carriers then at&t can’t conduct their plan. They are just playing a giant game of chicken with the FCC. There is no way at&t is just going to sit back while Tmobile and Verizon help themselves to all the 600mhz spectrum they want over their stubbornness of the rules.

    • Jay J. Blanco

      This is about the AWS auction next year. 600mhz plans haven’t quite been finalized yet

      • Fabian Cortez

        No, this is about the 600 MHz auction.

        Get your articles straight if you’re going to submit them.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          It’s about both auctions you can read below about the AWS auction where tmobile first proposed this.

          As you can read here

        • Jay J. Blanco

          Its about both actually, this was first proposed for
          aws now its being proposed for 600mhz

        • Fabian Cortez

          Are you delusional? No disrespect.

          That article has nothing to do with the AWS auction. AT&T has already stated that they will be participating in the AWS auction.

          This is all about the 600 MHz TV auction set for 2015.

          Reading is fundamental.

  • sushimane

    That’s fine with me haha it just mean T-Mobile has a better chance of getting low spectrum frequency and I like that. T-Mobile all day.

  • Jay J. Blanco

    Your welcome Alex! And T-Mobile needs more AWS & Low band spectrum so AT&T is going to hurt themselves

  • sounds really assholish of ATT to be upset that the FCC wants to open the bidding up to help others. another reason why i dont do ATT. the bully’s of the carrier world.

  • Jay Holm

    Good!! ATT has more than enough spectrum and more than enough customers!!! Screw them!!!

    • GinaDee

      Actually if you scale AT&T’s 100+ million subs to T-Mobile’s customer base T-Mobile actually has more spectrum per user.

      Difference is AT&T builds offers more LTE in rural areas whereas T-Mobile has refused for the most part until recently.

      T-Mobile could build a 20×20 LTE network in most cities using contiguous spectrum whereas AT&T can’t.

      AT&T is an American owned company too if that means anything anymore. There are those who exist in our country who’d rather give the Japanese and Germans preferential treatment to save a dollar.

      • Eric

        AT&T can deploy carrier aggregation to solve their “non-contiguous” spectrum crisis, but that would require a phone to support that, like the new HTC One, or the Galaxy S5.

        (They are already doing so in Chicago and other markets.)

      • RobotChupacabra

        Did you seriously just play the fake “patriot” card to defend AT&T?

        • Stone Cold

          Yea she went there.

      • Guest

        I don’t care who owns us or Sprint for that matter. They both Pay US Taxes for being based in the US. Us versus foreign owned? Who really cares anymore. Why don’t we make that American tax dodging company known as Apple pay their fair share instead of worrying about Germans and Japanese owning people.

  • dm33

    Poor AT&T is gonna hold its breath until it gets its way…

    • thepanttherlady

      As long as they don’t turn Magenta……. ;)

      • Fr0stTr0n

        You win an internet

        • thepanttherlady

          Wait, no cookie?!!?

        • Fr0stTr0n

          I figured you didn’t want the calories

        • thepanttherlady

          I did good for lunch, veggies and rice but you’re right. Le’sigh.

        • Stone Cold

          I’ll give you a cookie my friend what kind do you prefer?

        • thepanttherlady

          Thank you!

          Chocolate chip, of course but do think there’s something in the Girl Scout Thin Mints because those things are evilly good. :)

  • JacksRagingBileDuct

    Dear AT&T,

    • randomnerd_number38

      Dig the Fight Club reference and the comment.

      • Fr0stTr0n

        Seen movie but I don’t get it

        • randomnerd_number38

          It’s his name. I am Jack’s raging bike duck.

  • Stefan Naumowicz

    Att is that fat kid who won’t eat his half of the candy bar he has to split with his brother because he wants the whole thing

    • Fr0stTr0n

      You get a cookie for that

  • xmiro

    Bye Feliciaaaa!

    • NinoBr0wn


      • xmiro

        couldn’t resist using it :D

    • Alexis A

      I’m still lol!!!!!! Bye Felicia!!!! Buahahahaha

      • xmiro


  • Lokiz

    AT&T is being a brat….

  • randomnerd_number38

    pfffft Please, that’s a pathetically empty threat. I hope the FCC calls this bluff.

  • jimmiekain

    Wouldnt that only hurt AT&T?

    • sushimane

      it would but remember att and verizon are the biggest out of the big four so they would cough out more money for the spectrum but i careless about att. if verizon still want to bid on spectrum it’s all good even though i dislike verizon but there’s still other regional carriers to offset the missing att if they would actually not bid for 600 mhz lol. but im hopping that the fcc would let tmobile take first dibs on 600mhz lol

    • Durandal_1707

      AT&T has spectrum coming out of their ears already. This just leaves more for the other guys.

  • KingofPing

    So how is this a “Bad Thing” for anyone but AT&T?

    More spectrum for everyone else and AT&T gets a time-out.

    I love every single aspect of this tantrum. Maybe VZW will pretend they’re a spoiled three-year-old too!

    Wouldn’t that be awesome?

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      They’re hoping that the rest of the players in the game won’t have enough money to make this profitable for the FCC.

      • KingofPing

        Here’s hoping they are so very very wrong..

  • mingkee

    Any carrier which has more than half of nationwide sub-GHz spectrum should not participate 600MHz auction.

  • dd23

    Being a tmobile customer now I really really hope tmobile gets some spectrum in rural areas.. As much as I hate att they have the coverage tmobile dont in rural areas.. For people like me tthat travel alot it becomes frustrating I think I will have to buy an at&t go phone for when I travel.A perfect example is from LA to vegas tmobile goes bad 90 percent of the trip sometimes gets so bad u drop down to “G” not even 2G strait out “G” then searching then “no service ” While at&t has 4G aka 3G all the way, same when u go to san Francisco works fine when u get to san fran but on the way there is hell 2G and G all the way on the 8 hour trip were as att has 3G and even LTE on the way there I cancelled at&t cuz it was to expensive.. Right now happy at tmobile just wished they fixed that for us people that travel a lot.

    • jej

      You could get a tablet. Att has a 3 month plan $25 for 1 GB so 100 a year. With nexus 7 LTE or an iPad it’d get you coverage when you need it without switching entirely.

      • dd23

        Thnks that sounds like a good idea but I think ill be getting a cheap go phone I just need it to call . Because one thing I noticed when tmobile is on “G” everytime I try to call its goes to “call failed” its not like 2G edge that still works to call “G” never has worked for me so im stuck without service. So ill use the cheap go phone to call because I had at&t before and it works to call in those places tmobile doesnt.

        • francob911 .

          You should just unlock your phone if its one of the new ones ..that way its compatible with 1600 bands from att and just pop in a Sim card no need to buy another phone

        • dd23

          Ur rite I think ill just unlock my T-Mobile xperia z1s

        • francob911 .

          Oops I ment 1900

    • Alex Zapata

      It’s not that they don’t have spectrum, they have a nationwide license in the lovely AWS range, the problem is that it’s rather costly to deploy on those frequencies in rural areas :-/

    • DirkDigg1er

      I agree. T-mobile has horrible coverage. I can’t get a signal to use google navigation when driving in the SF bay area.

      • Kidney_Thief

        I’m no scientist, but I’m guessing the problem has more to do with San Francisco’s geography than with T-Mobile. It’s not easy to build or manage a network there.

      • Really? I had no issues with my Lumia 925 when I was down in SF in December. Was able to maintain a data services during an entire 30 minute BART ride and all throughout the city. Much better than the coverage in my home city.

  • james

    I’m glad gov needs to level the playing field it will drive down price especially because T-Mobile already changed market att Verizon has had to make changes level the playing field people won’t be as afraid to switch compitition is good

  • http

    Where did Cam go?

    • thepanttherlady

      He’s taking some family time but will be back soon. :)

      • Every time we start to warm up to somebody, they leave us…. :* ( It happened with David, and now its happened with Cam. Are we that horrible?!

        • thepanttherlady

          Only you…hehehehe. So kidding.

          I wasn’t told it was a secret but wasn’t told I could share the info either. Just know he hasn’t left, he’ll be back. Besides, Alex is doing a great job in the interim!

        • Cam Bunton

          I’m not gone, far from it. My wife and I just had our third baby a week ago, so I’ve taken time off. Back in full force from tomorrow.

      • Jay J. Blanco

        he told me that yesterday. I told him to enjoy his vacation :-)

        • thepanttherlady

          Sometimes, any day away from here is a vacation. LOL

    • Chris

      It’s long weekend in UK. Basically, the whole country gets Friday and Monday off.

  • Ford_Thundercougarfalconbird

    If AT&T is against it, then it must be good for the consumer.

  • notyourbusiness

    AT&T is… No way are they going to back on auctioning for that spectrum.

  • RefarmAllPCSnowPlease
    • sushimane

      Yeah me too he look serious but he want a fair game for all. But would still look over sprint they have a crap load of spectrum that there not using. They just finally shutdown the iden network and their shutting down the wimax network.

  • mloudt

    For people that haven’t paid much attention to other blog sites since At&t’s attempt failed to takeover T-mobile
    let me enlighten you. The FCC has been approving every spectrum buy
    At&t has proposed. When it comes to spectrum At&t is the new
    Verizon when it comes to hoarding lol. At least Verizon has sold some
    recently to T-mobile and last January 2013 they sold some to At&t

    My point is At&t could be bluffing or could be serious
    the next so called auction is suppose to be AWS – 3 right well I could
    see them skipping that auction. FCC finally approved the take over of
    Leap Cricket last month unlike T-mobile having to wait to repurpose the
    legacy Metro cdma network; At&t has immediate use of owned but never
    built out Cricket spectrum which covers over 40,000,000 POPS. Also, in the
    last 15 months At&t has bought potent spectrum in rural areas from
    wireless and non wireless companies.

    Add the fact with the Leap
    Cricket customers they have an extra 4.75 million customers that puts
    them closer in the customer range to surpassing Verizon wireless as
    number 1. You see in their commercials their already taking shots at
    Verizon and in their marketing their using words soniomous with Verizon
    meaning “reliable” I personally think the best all around carrier
    considering speed, reliability, and overall experience will be At&t
    reasons I can see them skipping the next auction and wait for 600 mhz

    • edfranco1

      Well said my man

  • charlieboy808

    What a bunch of whiny little bitches. All for one and none for anyone else.

  • vinnyjr

    AT&T just sucks.

  • Mike Nassour

    Let AT&T take its ball and go home. This is the BIG spectrum auction for the immediate future. If the Death Star wants to be shut out of new spectrum, FINE. That’s more for the rest of us.

    IOW….I call BS on AT&T’s whining,.

    • Sammy

      ATT will just buy it on the cheap after the auction is over from the original buyers. Happens every time. The Feds are so stupid. There is a reason AT&T is #1.

  • Winski

    WWWHHHHAAAaaaaaa….. It will surely be more productive for the industry with the cry-babies of the biz pouting on the hillside.. NO whambulance is en-route.

  • Perez Brian

    hahaha att poor them let them not participate more airwaves for everyone else yay!!