In the past few months, you’ve probably heard more about the upcoming 600MHz spectrum auction than you ever wanted to hear about it. And it’s mainly due to T-Mobile’s outspoken CEO, John Legere. He, along with other smaller companies, have been petitioning the FCC to go ahead and set aside a bit more spectrum that AT&T and Verizon won’t be allowed to bid on. Why? In the name of competition. The big two carriers, AT&T and Verizon, have a ton of low-band spectrum already, and it’s led to them becoming the top two carriers. And if they get their hands on this 600MHz spectrum that’s going to auction next year, it could spell doom for competition in the industry. Which has led T-Mobile to join forces with Sprint, Dish and other carriers to save wireless choice.
Today, the FCC commissioner, Tom Wheeler basically said that they aren’t planning to give T-Mobile what they want. Which was to set aside more spectrum that the giants couldn’t bid on. The giants being AT&T and Verizon. Earlier today, we wrote about the letter that the Department of Justice sent over to the FCC about this matter. They stated that they wouldn’t be against having a larger reserve.
So why is this so important to T-Mobile, Sprint, Dish and other carriers that are smaller? Well it’s basically their last shot at getting some low-band spectrum. Many of these carriers have loads of mid-band spectrum, but the difference with low-band is that it allows for better signal and coverage inside, as well as allowing a tower to cover more area than mid-band or high-band spectrum would. That’s arguably the biggest issue with T-Mobile and Sprint, and if they could grab some more low-band spectrum, it would really solve their issues. After this incentive auction, there won’t be any more spectrum being auctioned off for about another decade. Which means that if T-Mobile and Sprint can’t get the spectrum they want and need, it could spell death to one or both of them.
Tom Wheeler, the FCC Commissioner, explains his and the commission’s stance on the issue in his blog post, which you can read in the source link below.