Pai: Sprint Exit Shows FCC 'Folly'

Reacting to Sprint's announcement over the weekend that it will not be participating in the upcoming broadcast incentive auction, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai said Monday that it was the result of the "folly of the FCC’s attempt to pick winners and losers before the auction begins."

Pai has been a strong critic of the FCC decision to set aside spectrum for competitive carriers—like T-Mobile and Sprint—given Verizon and AT&T's low-band spectrum holdings (some three-quarters of that spectrum).

Pai also said the decision "intensifies doubts about how competitive the bidding will be for set-aside spectrum and whether American taxpayers will receive fair compensation for that scarce public resource. Sprint’s announcement only strengthens my belief that the FCC should not have granted a spectrum giveaway in this auction or placed artificial limits on carriers’ participation."

"Sprint has concluded that its rich spectrum holdings are sufficient to provide its current and future customers great network coverage and be able to provide the consistent reliability, capacity, and speed that its customers demand," said the company in a statement Sept. 26.

Sprint said it needed to focus on improving its current network and that it has all the spectrum it needs. “Sprint’s focus and overarching imperative must be on improving its network and market position in the immediate term so we can remain a powerful force in fostering competition, consumer benefits and innovation in the wireless broadband world,” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. “Sprint has the spectrum it needs to deploy its network architecture of the future.”

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.