Earlier this year, the FCC decided that if any one carrier took control of one-third of the spectrum below 1GHz in any individual market, they should be “subject to enhanced review.” AT&T has recently made and plans to make various transactions that would put them in control of more than 45 MHz of low-band spectrum in various markets. This puts them in the category that is “subject to enhanced review.” Other major carriers in the industry are worried and have contacted the FCC.
Carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint have gone out of their way to inform the FCC about AT&T’s future plans. If AT&T is allowed to go through with their transactions, they will have a major competitive advantage compared to the other carriers. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have asked the FCC to lookover AT&T’s purchases. They are hoping they will fix the issue because causing competition issues within the industry would not be in the FCC’s best interest.
On the other hand, AT&T feels what they are doing is not wrong and that they will not be penalized. The purchases they have made and their future purchases all serve their subscribers and the general public, doing no harm. AT&T believes that the FCC will let them go ahead and stay with their transactions; they are not worried.
The competition between the leading carriers in the industry is very strong. The concern is that carriers like AT&T and Verizon are breaking away from the pack. Even though T-Mobile is complaining to the FCC about AT&T’s recent transactions, they themselves have also made recent purchases of low-band spectrum. It’s all about the fight to the top of the industry, and remaining there for the long run. The FCC is in the interminable position of fairly regulating these carriers’ actions.
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