FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has ruled that AT&T and Verizon Wireless will both be seeing limited participation in the upcoming 2015 low-band spectrum auction. With AT&T and Verizon both holding as much as two thirds of the already existing low-band spectrum currently, the FCC's ruling on embracing the regulations for the upcoming auction will see new opportunities for some of the nations smaller carriers to get a chance at buying up some of the low-band spectrum for future use. The regulations will basically be setting aside a segment of the spectrum that is to be auctioned off, which will make it off limits to AT&T and Verizon.
Tom Wheeler's statements on the matter reflect that the FCC obviously sees both AT&T and Verizon as potentially being able to monopolize the low-band airwaves if the auctions continue to have no set of rules prohibiting them from doing so. They hold the most cash to throw around in bids, which makes it hard for any of the other smaller carriers to compete. Wheeler stated today that "What this rule does is prevent those with current low-band spectrum from monopolizing the market in the auction by assuring that some spectrum will be available for those with insufficient amounts of spectrum to serve rural areas and penetrate buildings." While this regulation set in place will certainly disallow AT&T and Verizon to dominate the auction this time around, it will still take some time for those who get their hands on it to put things into play, but at least now some of the smaller carriers will end up with some low-frequency to work with.
The auction is still a ways off as it's set to take place sometime in the middle of next year, but this gives the smaller carriers who now have a guaranteed chance at buying up some of the low-band spectrum to come up with more needed funds to hopefully win bids for it. T-mobile and Sprint were both large advocates for this proposed regulation and while they stand a better chance at now being able to grab some of the low-band spectrum than even smaller carriers, it's a better all around scenario for everybody involved short of AT&T and Verizon.