Sprint Will Sit Out Broadcast Spectrum Auction

Sprint will not participate in the upcoming FCC broadcaster incentive auction, the company announced Saturday, but one interested broadcast representative says there will still be plenty of bidders and bucks.

The FCC specifically came up with forward auction rules, including a reserve (set-aside) of the best spectrum for carriers not named AT&T and Verizon, to encourage competitive wireless cmopany participation, but Sprint said Saturday that it didn't need any more spectrum.

Sprint had also registered concerns with the FCC about the way the commission was implementing that reserve, including how it was triggered and conditioned.

"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.

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.”

While it was at it, Sprint put in a plug for reform of the special access (business) broadband market, something the FCC is in the process of doing. "As Sprint and other companies densify their mobile broadband networks, timely special access reform, including pricing, terms, and conditions, is more critical than ever to ensure the competition that benefits American consumers. Sprint supports the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to bring this long-standing proceeding to a pro-competitive conclusion," the company said.

"Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and multiple financial and other non-carrier bidders will assure strong demand and a hugely successful auction," said Preston Padden, executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, representing most of a hundred stations interested in putting spectrum into the auction at the right price.

Sprint also sat out the AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction, while Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile were all players.

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.