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FCC Official: T-Mobile Petition to Be Denied

Confirming earlier reports in B&C and MultiChannel News, an FCC official has confirmed that the chairman is sticking with his proposal to set aside 30 MHz of low-band broadcast spectrum for competitive wireless carriers in the upcoming incentive auction.

That came from an FCC official speaking on background to reporters in a briefing about a related subject, new small business bidding rules for the upcoming broadcast incentive auction, and future wireless auctions in general.

Asked about the 30 MHz reserve in the incentive auction, which T-Mobile has been pushing the FCC to increase to 40 MHZ, the official said the plan was to deny the T-Mobile petition and stick with 30 MHz.

That is how much spectrum the FCC will open up to bidders other than AT&T and Verizon, which together already have the majority of low-band spectrum, as well as the majority of wireless customers.

T-Mobile was not giving up, given that the full FCC has not yet voted on the chairman's plan--it is scheduled to July 16--and edits and changes are still possible.

“Low-band spectrum is the holy grail for AT&T and Verizon," said T-Mobile SV, government affairs, Andy Levin. "If others get it, and the Big Two have to compete on price, their customers alone would save over $20 billion per year. That's why everyone with a wireless phone has a stake in the outcome of this proceeding, and the FCC should heed the calls of DOJ, many in Congress and a slew of consumer groups and move to strengthen the reserve.”

The past week has seen letters from a host of high-profile Democrats (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/more-democrats-push-fcc...) and one from the Justice Department (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/doj-signals-preference-...), all signaling they thought the FCC should reserve low-band spectrum for competitive carriers sufficient to promote competition.

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.