CCA urges regulatory rethink over ‘devastating’ AT&T spectrum purchases

28 Sep 2012

According to Fierce Wireless, the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to combine AT&T Mobility’s various spectrum purchases into one comprehensive transaction, rather than judging them on a case-by-case basis. CCA President and CEO Steve Berry commented: ‘Allowing the largest carriers to obtain unlimited amounts of spectrum on the secondary market raises serious competitive concerns. The only way for the FCC to truly see the devastating consequences of further spectrum aggregation is by consolidating the proposed applications. On their own, AT&T’s proposed license acquisitions may not seem significant, but when added together, it totals to a significant amount of spectrum’.

Unsurprisingly, in its counter-filings, AT&T argued against such a move, contending that it would ‘introduce delay that is contrary to the public interest’. The mobile giant added: ‘AT&T’s transactions are independent of one another and involve different parties and different geographic areas. The Commission routinely denies consolidation of transactions that are not contingent on each other, and it should follow that precedent here’. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, AT&T is looking to acquire:

• 2.3GHz Wireless Communication Services (WCS) spectrum from NextWave Wireless, Comcast and Horizon Wi-Com;

• 700MHz spectrum from McBride Spectrum Partners (a lower 700MHz B Block licence in Pennsylvania), Farmers Telephone Company (a lower 700MHz C Block licence in Colorado), Com South Tellular (two lower 700MHz C Block licences in Georgia) and David L. Miller (13 lower 700MHz B Block licences covering Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas);

• Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from CenturyTel Broadband Wireless and Cavalier Wireless.

TeleGeography notes that, after seeing its controversial USD39 billion acquisition of cellular rival T-Mobile USA fall foul of the FCC in December 2011, AT&T has changed tack and pursued a number of smaller spectrum acquisitions instead.