FCC rejects T-Mobile's request to hold more spectrum for smaller carriers bidding in 2016 auction
Yesterday, the FCC rejected T-Mobile's request to expand the amount of spectrum held for smaller carriers by a unanimous 5-0 vote. The FCC's ruling was not much of a surprise considering that the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, said back in June that he would recommend to FCC commissioners that they vote down T-Mobile's request.
T-Mobile is not so much worried about purchasing spectrum for itself as it concerned with keeping Verizon and AT&T from using their wealth to add to their large portfolio of spectrum. Now that it has officially displaced Sprint as the third largest carrier in the U.S., the self proclaimed Un-carrier has loftier goals.
The auction is expected to take place in March. Unless there is a late change brought on by a court order, the FCC will hold aside 30MHz of the spectrum in each market for carriers that are not nationwide, or own less than one-third of the low frequency spectrum in that market. T-Mobile and Sprint both would qualify under the latter requirement. T-Mobile has been requesting that 40MHz be held aside in each market, instead.
As you might expect, T-Mobile CEO John Legere put his own spin on the FCC action. Legere said that the FCC will be monitoring the auction closely so that Verizon and AT&T "can't game the system." The Pied Piper of wireless (or is it Peter Pan?) added that T-Mobile's goal is to show up at the auction, play hard, and walk out successful.