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Public Knowledge Calls AT&T Spectrum Statements ‘Unfortunate’

January 26, 2012 , ,

The following is attributed to Harold Feld,
legal director for Public Knowledge:

 

“It is unfortunate that AT&T Chairman
Randall Stephenson still believes that buying out the wireless industry is the
only way to improve his company’s spectrum efficiency.

 

“His comment in this morning’s earnings
call that the FCC has made it clear the agency won’t allow acquisitions as a
means of increasing spectrum holdings is inappropriate for two reasons. The
failed acquisition of T-Mobile would have had far wider implications than
simply a spectrum acquisition. It is unfortunate that AT&T thinks that the
only way it can increase its spectrum holdings is to purchase a competitor.  Using its current holdings more efficiently
would also go a long way to relieving the company’s purported spectrum
shortage. In addition, the Commission did allow AT&T to purchase spectrum
from Qualcomm. 

 

“It is also unfortunate that Stephenson
criticized the FCC’s handling of the Qualcomm acquisition by saying that
different spectrum ‘screen’ standards were applied for that deal than for the
T-Mobile acquisition.  There were not. AT&T
acknowledged when it applied for the Qualcomm purchase, before it applied to
purchase T-Mobile, that the company was bumping up against the screen, a level
of spectrum holdings which the Commission uses to determine competitive
standards in a market.  AT&T
executives must surely have realized that adding T-Mobile’s national spectrum footprint
to Qualcomm’s national spectrum footprint would put them above the screen.

 

“The FCC has a fine record in analyzing
spectrum markets and in setting terms for auctions accordingly.  AT&T wants Congress to rig auctions for
the benefit of it and other large companies while neglecting the larger issues
of the competitive health of the industry. 
Congress shouldn’t go along with yet another special-interest plan that
benefits the few at the expense of the many and which would eliminate
unlicensed spectrum as a source of innovation and economic growth.”