US telecoms regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to initiate a review of its rules regarding how much spectrum a carrier should be able to hold, Fierce Wireless reports. The five FCC commissioners voted unanimously in reviewing the proposed rule changes, which will be opened for public comment in due course. The review will likely have a large impact on how carriers approach spectrum acquisitions, and signal a shift to a more transparent process, which will benefit smaller carriers. The rulemakers will explore the agency’s so-called ‘spectrum-screen’, which it uses when reviewing frequency-based transactions. As things stand, if a carrier acquires too much bandwidth and violates the screen, the deal is more closely scrutinised. However, the spectrum-screen is currently different for each proposed transaction.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski commented: ‘While we have seen major changes in all aspects of the mobile marketplace, the FCC has not reviewed its policies for mobile spectrum holdings in more than a decade. And stakeholders from throughout the mobile ecosystem have increasingly been saying it’s time to take a fresh look, and that we can increase certainty and predictability for the marketplace … Over the past three years, we have approved hundreds of transactions involving more than 1,000 licences, while also significantly reducing the review time for major transactions. We have also shown that we recognise when transactions require conditions or spectrum divestitures to preserve competition. Competition is the lifeblood of our free market economy. Indifference to competition is not good for innovation, investment or economic growth’.