The U.S. Federal Communications Commission should limit the amount of spectrum that giant mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon Communications are able to buy in an auction scheduled for mid-2015, some U.S. senators said Tuesday.
But lawmakers could reach no consensus on proposals to limit the bids of the two largest mobile carriers in the U.S. in the upcoming auction of spectrum now controlled by television stations. Some Republican senators, along with an AT&T representative and other witnesses, including an AT&T official, called for unrestricted bidding in the mid-2015 auction of 600MHz spectrum.
”The FCC should let all interested participants freely compete against one other in the open market,” Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing. “It should avoid putting its thumb on the scales. The value of using spectrum auctions is that the free market is more effective at allocating spectrum than relying on the subjective opinions and predictions of government officials.”
Thune and Joan Marsh, AT&T’s vice president of federal regulatory affairs, urged the FCC to reject calls by carriers Sprint and T-Mobile USA, along with the U.S. Department of Justice and some other advocates, to cap the amount of spectrum the two largest carriers can buy. In the so-called incentive auction, TV stations would volunteer to give up prime spectrum for mobile broadband services in exchange for a cut of the auction proceeds.