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Start-Ups Back Bigger Spectrum Reserves

More than three dozen Internet start-ups/edge providers have asked the FCC to reserve more spectrum in the broadcast incentive auction for smaller wireless broadband providers to prompt competition and boost access.

Some of their names may be hard to pronounce—Fytns, Fligoo, Skuchain, Castr—but their message is clear: They want at least 40 MHz reserved for carriers not named AT&T and Verizon.

In a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler dated May 13, they point out that while the FCC has already said it will reserve 30 MHz for smaller carriers, with 20 MHz the baseline for a competitive nationwide service (10 for uplink spectrum, 10 for downlink), reserving 40 MHz would allow for two new competitors.

“Our businesses depend on being able to access affordable high-speed mobile broadband to reach our customers, grow our startups, and develop the next great technologies," they said. “If the FCC fails to establish auction rules that enable competitive carriers to win spectrum licenses for this last significant block of low-band spectrum, American consumers could be locked into a permanent duopoly for mobile broadband access."

They called the auction a "rare" opportunity to allow for the creation of multiple new competitors. "How the FCC handles the incentive auction will have an enormous impact on the future of mobile broadband competition and, in turn, the future of the mobile edge provider market," they said.

The FCC is currently seeking input on whether/how to modify its incentive auction rules.

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.