FCC Waives Auction Communication Prohibition for Sprint, T-Mobile

The FCC has waived its rules against communications between a spectrum auction bidder (in this case Sprint) and a nationwide carrier (in this case T-Mobile) regarding the FCC's upcoming auction of spectrum (auction 103) for 5G, an auction Sprint and T-Mobile want to be able to bid in.

Sprint had sought a waiver of the rules as regards a short-form application to bid in the auction given that it has a deal to merge with T-Mobile--a deal a majority of FCC commissioners support. So had T-Mobile, Dish, and Sprint in a separate request tied to the side-deal spin-off of Boost Mobile to Sprint (part of DOJ's agreement to allow the larger deal) but the FCC rejected that as moot given it was granting Sprint the waiver related to the merger agreement.

Related: Petition Filed to Delay FCC's T-Mobile-Sprint Decision

The FCC rules would otherwise prevent an auction participant from communicating "directly or indirectly, bidding, bidding strategies, or post-auction market structure with another auction applicant or a nationwide provider."

"[T]he public interest is served by enabling Sprint to apply and participate in Auction 103, notwithstanding its proposed transaction with T-Mobile," said the acting head of the Office of Economics and Analytics and the chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau in an order released Oct. 7. 

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.