Light Reading

Rural Telcos Urged Into 600MHz Auction

Carol Wilson
5/14/2014
50%
50%

NEW ORLEANS — Metaswitch Forum 2014 — Rural telcos have their best chance to get into the wireless game in the upcoming FCC auction of 600MHz spectrum, assuming the rules stay as currently laid out, says the head of the largest association of rural companies.

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association , today called this latest spectrum block "the last bit of beachfront property" and urged rural telcos to participate in the upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction. The current proposal, which has proven controversial, limits what AT&T and Verizon can buy and creates smaller markets, opening the door for rural telcos to buy spectrum that covers their footprint without being forced to buy a large block. (See FCC Chief: Keep Spectrum Open for Smaller Carriers.)

"This is one last shot at having wireless spectrum," Bloomfield said in a keynote here. "If the rules stay as they are currently drafted, this is a favorable situation for smaller carriers.

NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield

In a conversation after her presentation, she said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal -- which prompted AT&T to threaten not to participate in the auction at all -- has earned kudos among smaller telcos and wireless carriers. Now they need to step up and participate in the auction, Bloomfield said, to insure that broadcasters relinquish the spectrum.

Wheeler is also open to discussing other issues rural wireless operators have faced, including lack of access to the most popular handsets and roaming problems, Bloomfield said.

The NTCA is also actively engaged with federal regulators where its transition to the all-IP network is concerned. More than half of its members have already deployed softswitches in the move to IP, and more than 75% have deployed fiber-to-the-home somewhere in their networks, she said.

Her association is looking at the overlap between where its members are actively engaged in the IP transition and where there is an electric utility that has also responded to the FCC's request for information, hoping to see where partnerships can be built between the two local companies' phone and power.

In general, rural telcos (that have taken their knocks in recent years with the loss of Universal Service funding and some complex formulas for future funding) are working hard to stay at the table and in the conversation where the FCC is concerned, and finding Wheeler to be a reasonable person with whom to deal, Bloomfield added.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/17/2014 | 4:30:01 PM
Re: Hard to imagine
Makes sense. For a big business, buying retail doesn't work; they have to buy in bulk. They don't buy one box of paperclips at a time; they buy 'em by the truckload. 
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/16/2014 | 3:55:03 PM
Like Canada
Carol,

As I recall Canada also reserved spectrum for smaller players during its own AWS auction a few years ago. But I am sure there are differences when it comes to the details on how Canada handled it and the way FCC is going about it.

 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/15/2014 | 4:34:38 PM
Re: Hard to imagine
It's not the spectrum itself, it's the way the FCC is choosing to run the auction. As it was explained to me, it's being sold off in smaller market sizes, so a rural company serving eastern Tennessee doesn't have to buy the spectrum for the entire state, they can buy the spectrum for a smaller portion, making it less expensive and more palatable for them to purchase. 

AT&T and Verizon, as the two companies owning the biggest chunk of the highest value spectrum already, are being limited in what they can purchase, so it may be harder for them to build the business case around adding spectrum at 600 MHz. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/15/2014 | 2:05:30 PM
Re: Hard to imagine
If the 600 MHz footprint doesn't make sense for AT&T, perhaps other carriers would have difficulty making it work too. 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/14/2014 | 9:09:47 PM
Re: Hard to imagine
AT&T is arguing that the FCC's restrictions would limit the bandwidth they could get from the auction and leave them with "a fragmented and inefficient 600 MHz footprint" nthat doesn't make business sense. 

It does seem hard to believe that AT&T would sit out any spectrum auction, given the value of that limited resource but if carving up the auction into a lot of smaller pieces and limiting where AT&T and Verizon can bid makes the bandwidth so inefficient it's essentially unusable, they might follow through.

I suspect the threats at this stage are an effort to pressure Wheeler to back down. A lot of people will be watching to see if it works. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/14/2014 | 8:10:29 PM
Hard to imagine
Hard to imagine AT&T following through on its threat to boycott the auction. The competitive upside is too great. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Power of Five Convergences in OceanStor OS

3|4|15   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


OceanStor OS is Huawei's brand-new storage operating system. While inheriting the consistent high stability, reliability and performance from the company's previous storage products, OceanStor OS abounds in new converged storage features. Specifically, the new storage operating system achieves "five convergences" to lift storage convergence to a higher level.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
4K Brings Extreme Video Experience

3|4|15   |   8:10   |   (0) comments


4K video is a hot topic in the video industry. It will certainly bring an extreme video experience to end users. At the same time, however, it will also pose a big challenge to operators. Check out this Huawei 4K experts' discussion about how operators can achieve success in 4K video service.
LRTV Interviews
DT's Virtualization Vision for Europe

3|4|15   |   10:23   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks virtualization, cloudification and standards with Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Between the CEOs
EXCLUSIVE: Cisco's Chambers on Reinvention

3|3|15   |   8:24   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
LRTV Documentaries
The Three Cs of MWC15

3|2|15   |   2:33   |   (1) comment


My visit to this year's Mobile World Congress is going to dominated by three Cs – cloud, cells and coffee.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Wheeler: We'll Enforce Title II 'Case-By-Case'
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/3/2015
New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/4/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.