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.
Let’s be clear. We never understood why the U.S. government needed to provide corporate welfare to two U.S. carriers owned by large, multi-national telecommunications conglomerates. We don’t agree that these companies need an auction preference, particularly when both companies currently have more spectrum per customer than either AT&T or Verizon.
But we accepted the result because we recognized it as a carefully balanced solution and a thoughtful compromise that would resolve the debate that had already gone on far too long as of last May and has now moved well beyond tedium.
Yet last week, T-Mobile sent a letter from its CEO saying that a decision over two years in the making was “premature” and that a set aside that gives T-Mobile a huge bidding advantage in the auction was simply not enough. And now comes another demand seeking favors that would lower the reserve trigger and further enrich T-Mobile at the expense of taxpayers.
Let me repeat. T-Mobile will have access to a full 30 MHz of spectrum in markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta free from any competitive bidding from AT&T or Verizon. How much more help does it need?
It’s time to #stopthemagentamadness. The Commission should vote to approve the Bureau’s draft order on reconsideration so we can all move on.