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AT&T Takes Issue With Auction Framework

There is a growing consensus among stakeholders, both in wireless and broadcast, that the FCC's variable post-auction plan, which anticipates some TV stations and wireless operators on the same channel in nearby markets, will reduce the "quality."

At least that is the view of AT&T, which has told the FCC it needs to rethink portions of its incentive auction framework if it wants it to be a success. Filings from the wireless association, CTIA, of which AT&T is a member, and the National Association of Broadcasters also took issue with the variability of the plan.

AT&T's criticisms came in reply comments to the FCC on its incentive auction framework.

In blogging about the comments, Joan Marsh, AT&T VP of Federal regulatory, suggested the FCC had a lot of rethinking to do.

"The proposals currently on the table introduce interference into the proposed band plan where it need not exist, they contemplate a level of market variability that will be difficult and inefficient to implement, they unfairly foist impairments on the bidders facing the biggest auction restrictions, they tip the auction too far in favor of reserve-eligible bidders and they create significant opportunities for gaming."

The FCC is reserving spectrum for bidders without as much low-band holdings as AT&T and Verizon, which together have the majority of that wireless-friendly spectrum.

Marsh suggested that if those shadows on the auction remain unaltered by future FCC action, they will "unnecessarily complicate the auction, devalue the spectrum being reallocated for auction, suppress auction revenues and reduce the quantity of spectrum ultimately cleared. The proposals also raise the specter of a post-auction band plan fraught with interference that will burden the wireless industry indefinitely."