Now that the AWS-3Spectrum auction is over, the companies who participated and placed bids to nab up the portion of airwaves put up for grabs are likely devising ways in which to use the spectrum and figuring plans on how to fit it into their network expansions and improvements. T-Mobile themselves were able to snag a relatively small portion of spectrum compared to other big players, spending about $1.8 billion. While T-Mobile is happy with what they picked up and they will surely put it to goods use, CEO John Legere points out that the auction could have gone much better.
He refers to the auction as having been a disaster for the American wireless customer, specifically because what’s currently happening with the wireless industry is going to impact every single wireless consumer in the country for years and years to come. Most of Legere’s comments hinge on the statement that Verizon and AT&T who are the nation’s two largest wireless carriers are capable of cornering the market and dominating due to their expansive budget and vast amounts of cash. Just to put things in perspective from his point of view, Verizon and AT&T already own 73% of the U.S. low-band spectrum. He states that U.S. Consumers should be scared of that number and with the results of the AWS-3 auction, not directly because of what will happen with the spectrum purchased, but because of the upcoming auction next year for the 600MHz spectrum which has the potential to play out the same way as the AWS-3 auction. With Verizon and AT&T buying up the majority of available low band spectrum. According to Legere, why this should be a concern for every single U.S. consumer is because if AT&T and Verizon are once again allowed to buy up most of the spectrum on auction it will severely damage wireless competition in the industry going forward.
For this not to happen Legere has laid out a few different things that he states the government needs to consider for things to be an even playing field for all companies involved. Basically they need to set up auction rules. This includes ignoring Verizon Wireless and AT&T’s requests to delay the auction giving them time to replenish their cash stock with which they can buy up the majority of spectrum. In addition, the government would also need to promote competition by “reserving 40 MHz or at least half of the available spectrum in the next auction for sale to the competition.” Lastly, a rule needs to be set in place so that the spectrum that gets picked up at auction is actually used to provide service to wireless consumers in the U.S. instead of allowing it to be bought, held, and traded between companies. John Legere is also trying to instill the urgency for consumers to get in touch with the FCC and Congress to let them know that we as consumers want a competitive, innovative future for U.S. wireless. There are two ways in which you can participate, which is heading to this link and writing a letter to congress and the FCC, the other is by tweeting to @FCC and letting them know you want more competition in the wireless space.