WASHINGTON May 1 Verizon Communications Inc
has urged U.S. regulators not to restrict how much it can
buy in next year's auction of wireless spectrum, saying such a
limit would subsidize the smallest national carriers and their
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler
recently proposed rules for the complex sale of valuable
airwaves scheduled for mid-2015. The rules would reserve part of
the spectrum in each market for wireless carriers that do not
already have dominant blocks of low-frequency airwaves there.
That would benefit the No. 3 and No. 4 carriers, Sprint Corp
and T-Mobile US Inc, by limiting the two biggest
carriers, Verizon and AT&T Inc, which dominate the highly
valued low-band spectrum.
The sale is considered one of the most complex undertakings
by the FCC. It would first involve TV stations' giving up
airwaves they exclusively use and the FCC then auctioning them
off to wireless carriers. Congress has mandated that the FCC
raise enough money to pay broadcasters for their lost spectrum
and fund a new $7 billion public safety network.
Verizon on Monday pushed back against the proposed rules in
meetings with Ajit Pai and Mike O'Rielly, the FCC's two
Republican commissioners, who have also expressed concerns about
the proposed restrictions, according to an FCC disclosure
posted online on Thursday.
AT&T last month told Wheeler's staff that it may choose to
sit out the auction if such rules are adopted, though it later
told investors that outcome would not be ideal.
"Verizon stressed that it would be perverse and unjust for
the commission to adopt auction rules that subsidize some large
multinational companies at the expense of their competitors,"
Verizon said in Thursday's filing, referring to Sprint's
Japanese parent, SoftBank Corp, and T-Mobile's German
parent, Deutsche Telekom AG.
"T-Mobile and Sprint are large corporations with
established, well-financed corporate parents. They and their
parent corporations are more than capable of paying substantial
amounts to acquire spectrum in the incentive auction if they
choose to do so," Verizon said.
Wheeler has repeatedly asserted that his goal is to ensure
that non-dominant carriers in each market get some low-frequency
His plan would reserve up to 30 megahertz of airwaves in
each market for carriers that do not already have one-third of
low-band spectrum there, whether that be Verizon, AT&T or a
regional carrier. The reserve would kick in only after the
auction reaches a particular trigger, which will be established
in coming months.
The FCC is slated to vote on formally proposing the rules at
its May 15 meeting.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh, editing by Ros Krasny)