The FCC could stand in the way of Sprint and T-Mobile banding together to bid in the upcoming broadcast spectrum auction, as part of the agency's plans to give smaller players a chance at the bandwidth.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now says that it wants to change spectrum auctions rules to enable smaller companies to participate and build wireless businesses. New FCC changes being circulated propose "to update our rules in a way that recognizes – and confronts – the challenges new entrants face in entering the wireless industry," writes Roger Sherman, wireless telecommunications bureau chief at the FCC, in a blog on the topic.
The rules could directly affect a Sprint/T-Mobile joint venture to get spectrum, as Sherman alludes to in the blog.
"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," Sherman writes. "Therefore, the item tentatively concludes that joint bidding arrangements between nationwide providers should not be allowed."
The suggested new rules, however, would allow new, smaller entrants to partner with bigger operators, which would function as the "on-ramp" for the new players. "Allowing structured entry into the wireless business make sense, especially given the billions of dollars it would take to build a new national network from scratch," Sherman writes.
"The Chairman's goal is to have common sense rules in place before the Incentive Auction," Sherman notes. The 600MHz auctions are currently slated for mid-2015.
The agency is now seeking comment on the rules.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading