| San Antonio, March 26
San Antonio, March 26 The U.S. Federal
Communications Commission is still considering caps on the
amount of spectrum a single carrier will be allowed to acquire
in a 2015 spectrum auction, the commission's wireless bureau
chief said on Tuesday.
The caps would most likely affect the two biggest U.S.
carriers, AT&T and Verizon, and would give smaller
carriers a better chance to compete for a portion of frequencies
under one gigahertz, valued for their strength and reach.
In April 2013, the U.S. Justice Department urged the FCC to
devise an auction that would help ensure smaller carriers
obtained a fair share of that spectrum.
The so-called incentive auction will give TV stations that
currently own the valuable frequencies the opportunity to
voluntarily give up their frequencies to the FCC. The FCC then
would repackage them and auction them to wireless carriers,
which are clamoring for faster speeds and better services for
Proceeds from the auction will be used to pay the
broadcasters for their spectrum, as well as to help fund a new
$7 billion public safety network.
"The FCC retains its authority to design these auctions in a
way that promotes competition including ensuring licenses are
available only to certain kinds of carriers and a cap on how
much spectrum you can acquire. All those things are being
considered," said Roger Sherman, acting chief of the
commission's wireless bureau, at a conference in San Antonio.
Sherman added that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is "totally
committed to having as many people as possible show up and have
a real chance to win."
The auction is widely regarded as the most complex
undertaking by the FCC to date, balancing numerous economic,
engineering and political considerations, including a vocal push
from smaller carriers for limits to how much spectrum their
larger competitors will be allowed to acquire.
AT&T and Verizon control the biggest portion of frequencies
under one gigahertz and argue that setting limits unique to just
two companies would be a regulatory overreach and that caps
could reduce how much the FCC raises in the auction.
(Reporting By Marina Lopes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)