AT&T, T-Mobile Argue Over 2.5 GHz Spectrum

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T-Mobile urged the FCC to deny a petition from AT&T that asks the Commission not to grant the 2.5 GHz licenses T-Mobile recently won at auction. AT&T told the agency: “T-Mobile already far exceeds the Commission’s spectrum screen in many areas and holds far more spectrum than even T-Mobile thinks it needs.”

T-Mobile shot back. “AT&T offers no facts to support its claims of competitive harm concerning a spectrum auction in which it chose not to compete,” it told the FCC. T-Mobile says the record shows that AT&T is not interested in the 2.5 GHz licenses “and has sufficient mid-band spectrum to fulfill its needs.”  

New Street Policy Advisor Blair Levin says the firm doesn’t believe AT&T will be successful for several reasons. “The FCC generally regards the 2.5 band as part of mid-band spectrum, and in that larger band, AT&T has been able to aggregate more spectrum than T-Mobile,” he wrote in an investor note. The FCC has never previously imposed a post-auction spectrum aggregation limit and NSR doesn’t think it will in this case.

Levin also points out that AT&T has said it has enough spectrum to deploy 5G. He echoes T-Mobile’s point that AT&T didn’t participate in the 2.5 GHz auction, “which likely undercuts its credibility on the issue.”

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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