The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could be nearing a decision to exclude AT&T and Verizon from spectrum auctions due to be held in the next year, according to London’s Financial Times which cites industry watchers in Washington. In a report on the state of the wireless industry released yesterday, the FCC found that concentration in the mobile wireless market had increased 32% since 2003 as AT&T and Verizon, the leading mobile companies, continued to gain market share. The FCC did not conclude that the industry was ‘effectively competitive’, a finding it has made since 2002. Instead, it made no overall finding.
Industry analysts, corporate lobbyists and a consumer watchdog said the report signalled that the FCC was laying the groundwork to exclude the nation’s two largest wireless carriers from the next auction of spectrum. The FCC has proposed the auction of the so-called ‘D Block’ spectrum for commercial purposes in order to finance a public safety network that is expected to cost at least USD12 billion. The report could give the FCC ammunition to argue that it should set certain criteria for potential auction bidders, including limits on bidders that already hold the majority of available spectrum such as AT&T and Verizon.