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AT&T Thinks the FCC Should be More Skeptical of Dish buying Spectrum and not Deploying it

February 20, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

The AWS-3 Spectrum auction ended earlier this month and it was a record breaking auction for the FCC. AT&T spent the most in the auction with Verizon coming in second and Dish third with T-Mobile bringing up the rear. AT&T spent a lot on this auction. Almost twice as much as Verizon and Dish who were in the middle. AT&T is now thinking that Dish manipulated the rules that the FCC put in place for this auction and that the FCC should be skeptical of companies like Dish looking to buy spectrum in an auction and not deploying it, commercially. Additionally, AT&T thinks that Dish manipulated the FCC’s designated entity system in its bidding strategy for this auction to get discounts on airwaves, which they did get a pretty steep discount.

AT&T’s VP of Federal Regulatory, Joan Marsh wrote in a blog post that the auction which had gross provisional winning bids of $4.9 billion and net proceeds of $41.329 billion proved there is a clear demand in the market for licensed mobile broadband spectrum. Joan also pointed out that Dish does not currently offer any commercial wireless service, yet they won 25MHz of spectrum in that auction and already has a ton of spectrum sitting there in their pockets. Marsh also stated, “Given the demands being placed on wireless networks today, the industry simply cannot afford to have significant spectrum resources sitting idle on the sidelines.” She went on to say, “Auctions should be designed to ensure that licenses go to those willing to deploy networks — not speculators or stockpilers. The FCC has continued to strengthen build requirements but perhaps more is needed to ensure that the new capacity is put to use quickly for American consumers.”

Marsh also believes that the FCC needs to revisit the rules for the Incentive auction (for the 600MHz spectrum) which is slated for 2016. Marsh says that Dish manipulated a program that was designed to encourage spectrum ownership by small businesses and companies owned by minorities and women.

So clearly, AT&T isn’t happy with Dish. I’m guessing Dish won’t be licensing out their spectrum to AT&T now after this. If we hear anything from Dish, we’ll be sure to update this post with that information.