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FCC: Agreement Between Major Corporations is Not “Consensus”

May 23, 2013 FCC , Spectrum

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai calls the agreement between the biggest wireless companies and the broadcast incumbents over the Incentive Auction band plan a ‘consensus,’ ignoring objections from consumers and competitors. But an auction designed by the biggest incumbents will be a disaster for everyone, and a ‘consensus’ of incumbents that ignores consumers is no consensus for an FCC Commissioner.


Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireless Bureau issued what should have been a fairly routine and highly technical Public Notice about possible alternative band plans for the 600 MHz Auction aka the Incentive Auction.

This could also be called “that incredibly crazy, complicated deal Congress came up with last year where broadcasters sell back spectrum licenses to the FCC so the FCC can sell them to wireless companies.”

Since public comment makes it clear that the various proposals present a lot of challenges (see my incredibly long and wonky explanation here), it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Wireless Bureau asked for further comment after holding a band plan workshop a few weeks ago.

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Guess Those Wireless Networks Aren’t Congested After All

May 15, 2013 Data Caps , Spectrum

If networks really were overloaded, would carriers try to cut special deals to bring even more streaming video onto them?


Last week’s announcement that ESPN was in talks with at least one major wireless carrier to exempt its video from data caps raised fundamental net neutrality issues.  But it also raised an important question about the robustness of wireless networks.  If wireless networks were really as congested and starved of spectrum as some carriers like to claim, why would they be negotiating to bring more video onto them?

Wireless carriers have long complained about their network’s inability to meet customer expectations.  It was proposed as a justification to exempt wireless networks from net neutrality rules and destructively consolidate the industry (both failed convince the FCC).  It also shows up as a reason to move away from unlimited data towards more expensive tiered plans, and generally to explain why carriers over-promise and under-deliver on service.

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AT&T and Verizon Double-Dare FCC To Stop Spectrum Consolidation

January 25, 2013 AT&T , Competition , Mobile Communication , Spectrum , Verizon

Rarely do you see companies double-dare the FCC to back up their brave talk about promoting competition. That is, however, what AT&T has just decided to do – with a little help from Verizon. After gobbling a ton of spectrum last year in a series of small transactions, AT&T announced earlier this week it would buy up ATNI, which holds the last shreds of the old Alltel Spectrum. To top this off, Verizon just announced it has selected the purchaser for the 700 MHz spectrum it promised to sell off to get permission to buy the SpectrumCo spectrum. And guess what?

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Congress and the FCC Talk Incentive Auctions, Spectrum, and Your Wireless Future

December 14, 2012 Spectrum , Spectrum Licensing , White Space

On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held an oversight hearing on the implementation of spectrum auctions in an effort to meet the growing demand for wireless broadband services and fund a nationwide public safety network.  The five FCC Commissioners testified before the panel on the status of the auctions and their interpretations on how the auctions will free up additional spectrum and promote competition.  These auctions were part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.  For background on the spectrum provisions included in this legislation, read Harold Feld’s recap of the legislation from February of this year.

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Will AT&T Try To Crash the Sprint/SoftBank Party?

October 19, 2012 AT&T , Competition , Spectrum

Yesterday, Sprint moved to acquire a majority stake in Clearwire (CLWR) in advance of SoftBank acquiring a majority stake in Sprint. Despite some earlier speculation that SoftBank might have strategies that don’t include CLWR,  and despite disappointment from investors that Sprint won’t spend the extra bucks to acquire CLWR in its entirety, the move was pretty much expected. One of the main obstacles to Sprint in recent years has been its occasionally testy relationship with CLWR, and difficulties the two companies have had negotiating terms for Sprint’s use of CLWR’s spectrum and network.

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