Stop the Magenta Madness:
A Word on the Spectrum Reserve

Posted by: Joan Marsh on July 2, 2015 at 10:38 am

We don’t have a slick cartoon full of super heroes and telecom villains.  We aren’t generating a raft of identically-worded robo-letters.  And we aren’t tweeting apocalyptic rants about the demise of wireless choice.  But we do care about the 600 MHz spectrum auction – a lot – and we support the Chairman’s decision to deny certain pending petitions for reconsideration that seek to undermine the balanced solution reached on the spectrum reserve question more than a year ago.

As is often the case, the rhetoric has gotten so heated that some fundamental facts have been all but lost.  The fact is that T-Mobile can bid on any and all blocks of spectrum that will be made available in the 600 MHz auction – not just the spectrum in the reserve.  In the spectrum reserve, T-Mobile will have access to a full 30 MHz of spectrum free from any bidding competition in most major markets from either Verizon or AT&T.

Indeed, when the Commission adopted the reserve framework last year, it created an unprecedented opportunity for two national carriers – T-Mobile and Sprint – to enjoy significant auction advantages over the two other national carriers in the most data-congested markets in the nation.  Never in the history of FCC auctions have two national carriers been given such preferences.

Yet, T-Mobile has demanded more – over and over and over again.

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T-Mobile Should Stop Complaining and Start Investing in Rural America

Posted by: Joan Marsh on June 23, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Today, T-Mobile filed a petition to deny a spectrum acquisition by AT&T in three rural cellular market areas (CMAs) in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. The purchase will give AT&T the needed spectrum footprint to deploy up to a 10×10 MHz LTE network in these markets, which will enable AT&T to offer faster and higher quality services to its rural customers. The proposed transaction also has no adverse competitive effects. AT&T will not exceed the Commission’s spectrum aggregation screen and — because the spectrum at issue currently sits completely fallow and unused – the deal will not reduce any actual competition.

Yet, T-Mobile complains, arguing that AT&T should not be permitted to buy and deploy this fallow spectrum and that AT&T should not be allowed to invest in these rural communities to deploy high quality LTE services.

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T-Mobile’s Magenta Herring

Posted by: Joan Marsh on June 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm

The ever colorful tweets from T-Mobile CEO John Legere made for interesting reading after his DC tour last week in support of T-Mobile’s quest to expand the 600 MHz spectrum reserve.  T-Mobile has long alleged that an expanded reserve is essential to competition in rural America.  But, the fact is that the reserve framework will have very little impact on wireless service or deployment in rural America.  As I explain below, in many rural areas, AT&T’s low-band portfolio is simply not sufficient to trigger the auction restrictions so our bidding in most rural areas will not be restricted, regardless of the size of the reserve.

What the restrictions are actually designed to do is protect T-Mobile from bidding competition in urban markets – even though T-Mobile itself argues that 92% of non-rural Americans have access to four or more mobile broadband providers.  Only 40% of rural Americans, T-Mobile argues, enjoy the same and thus T-Mobile tries to build a case for expanding the restrictions to support deployment in rural America.

To understand why T-Mobile is wrong – and why the reserve framework is not likely to have much impact on bidding in rural markets – we need to discuss how the reserve framework is structured.

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A 21st Century Safety Net

Posted by: Jim Cicconi on June 1, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Tomorrow, the Senate Commerce Committee will convene a hearing on the future of the FCC’s Lifeline program.  Given the recent GAO report on the program and the FCC report on the broadband Lifeline trial, some folks might argue that Lifeline is irreversibly broken and incapable of accomplishing any credible goals.  While I would agree that the existing program is broken and in dire need of reform, I think it would be a mistake to conclude that the program cannot be fixed and modernized for the 21st Century.  I was in the Reagan White House when the Lifeline program was debated and ultimately created.  Back then the goal of the program was not to increase telephone penetration, but rather to create a program to help low income Americans through a difficult time in life by providing them a tool to get back on their feet.  In short, Lifeline was envisioned as part of our country’s social safety net for those with very low incomes or out of work.

Communications technology – voice service then – was the critical tool that provided access to emergency services, friends and family, and job opportunities.  If you had a phone, you had a chance.  Fast forward 30+ years to the 21st Century.  People still fall on hard times and they still need safety net programs like Lifeline. But increasingly in today’s society, having a voice line is not enough.  The way people find job opportunities today is different than it was back in 1985.  We’ve gone from want ads in the newspaper to posting available jobs online.  Apps like Facebook and LinkedIn have become important job networking tools.  Education and training courses – even the process of applying for a job – have all moved online, along with needed services like child care.  In short, Internet access has quickly become the more needed Lifeline technology for the 21st century.  If we still believe this part of the social safety net was soundly conceived and is still needed today – and I do – we need to focus on fixing the program to eliminate abuses and modernizing it to meet today’s needs, all while preserving the essence of the program’s good intentions.

So, what should a reformed Lifeline program look like?

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AT&T Statement on the Renomination of Jessica Rosenworcel as FCC Commissioner

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on May 21, 2015 at 12:19 pm

The following may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs:

“Throughout her tenure, Jessica Rosenworcel has been an experienced, respected, and important voice on every major issue the Commission has faced.  Her nomination for another term on the FCC is very welcome news.”

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