August 1, 2014 / 6:27 PM / in 4 years

FCC seeks to prevent joint bidding by nationwide carriers

WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commision said on Friday it wants to prevent joint bids in wireless airwave auctions by nationwide providers, a move that could complicate reported plans for a joint venture by Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc.

The announcement came two weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported the third and fourth largest U.S. mobile carriers planned on raising $10 billion for a joint venture to bid in the FCC’s much anticipated 2015 sale of low-frequency airwaves, as part of a merger proposal.

“If two of the largest companies are able to bid as one combined entity in the auction, their combined resources may have the effect of suppressing meaningful competition,” Roger Sherman, the FCC’s wireless telecommunications bureau chief, said in a blog post on the commission’s website.

Sherman said the rules currently in place were written before the accelerated consolidation in the wireless industry and must be revised to allow more businesses to serve growing consumer demand for data.

Joint bidding has been used as a way for small companies to raise funds and gain more leverage against larger bidders in auctions for airwaves.

The commission is seeking comment on arrangements between providers of different sizes as it solidifies bidding rules for the 2015 sale.

The auction would be the first opportunity in years for wireless carriers to buy low-frequency airwaves, considered the beachfront property of radio spectrum for their reach and strength.

To read Sherman's blog, see: here (Editing by Ros Krasny and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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