AT&T, FCC Trying to Work Out Aggregation Item Issues

AT&T has indicated that how the FCC structures the broadcast incentive auction could affect whether or not it participates, but it appears still to be trying to work it out with the commission.

The FCC is expected to circulate a spectrum aggregation item on April 24 that could potentially limit the low-band spectrum available to AT&T, but there are suggestions from recent interactions between AT&T execs and the commission that the item could be on its way to something AT&T could support.

The item would not be voted on until May 15 and other commissioners can still make suggested edits and changes, so it could, and likely is, still a work in progress.

According to ex parte filings, AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson got on the phone with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Monday to talk about "issues" raised by AT&T about the auctions -- as well as to brief him on AT&T's plans to expand fiber deployment.

The next day, Wheeler said he would be surprised if AT&T did not participate in the auction.

Then on Wednesday, a group of AT&T execs met with Wheeler staffers, FCC General Counsel Jon Sallett and Wireless Bureau Chief Roger Sherman to talk about the auction and the spectrum aggregation item

"Our desire to participate in this auction and our hope for a successful auction is unchanged. We believe that all stakeholders will be able to work together to achieve a successful incentive auction for the 600 MHz band," AT&T execs said, according to the ex parte notice.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.