T-Mobile is urging the Federal Communications Commission to hold another millimeter-wave auction this year so as to avoid a scenario in which "select carriers" gain a competitive edge by hoarding the highly sought spectrum through other means and ultimately gain a long-term competitive advantage in the race to deploy, strengthen, and maintain the fifth generation of wireless networks. Verizon was specifically mentioned as part of the firm's recent filing with the telecom regulator, with T-Mobile stating that the largest mobile service provider in the United States has been hoarding mmWave spectrum on the secondary markets, i.e. through mergers, acquisitions, and deals with companies like Nextlink Wireless. The FCC is aware of the development, having been the one who gave the final approval for all such moves, most recently by greenlighting the purchase of Straight Path, but it's currently unclear how the agency will respond to T-Mobile's request.
The Bellevue, Washington-based wireless carrier also pointed to the FCC's previous promise of making more spectrum available in the next two years as an argument for accelerating such efforts. The company wants the spectrum auctioned off "as soon as practicable" as it would presumably be looking to aggressively bid for it. T-Mobile isn't unique in its calls for a new auction, with both Verizon and AT&T recently doing the same. Sprint is the only national carrier that isn't actively pushing for it due to its already vast spectrum holdings that should be able to support its upcoming 5G network, with the firm repeatedly signaling it will be leveraging its existing portfolio on the road to the next generation of wireless connectivity before opting for more major purchases.
Verizon is also advocating for the FCC to remove the limitations on the amount of spectrum the telecom companies can acquire in the 28, 37, and 39GHz bands, citing efficiency reasons, as well as the precedent set by the agency with the 24 and 27GHz bands. Likewise, AT&T is convinced that auctioning off the same three bands should be a priority, having previously proposed a voucher-based system for doing so. mmWave spectrum is expected to serve as the backbone for 5G networks and allow for much higher speeds and capacities, as well as lower latencies, but is also the main reason why the majority of the industry is now pursuing small cell deployment as millimeter waves can easily be absorbed by rain and foliage, in addition to being unable to easily travel through buildings.