DOJ Sides with T-Mo

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The U.S. Department of Justice urged the FCC to amend the rules regarding the 2016 incentive auction to promote competition and innovation in the wireless markets. “In a June 24 letter, William Baer, assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s antitrust division, said the department will continue to support the commission’s decision to create a significant reserve of spectrum to ensure that wireless carriers, other than those that currently hold the majority of low-frequency spectrum, have an opportunity to acquire the spectrum necessary to foster a competitive wireless market,” SNL Kagan reported. The document also stresses that the auction happen as soon as possible. But the most important aspect was that Baer suggested the FCCC reserve a significant amount of spectrum for sale in each geographic area for wireless carriers that do not already own a large proportion of the low-frequency spectrum in that area. This is exactly what T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere has been advocating from the start. On a February 18, Legere wrote a blog post on the company’s website saying, “The rules need to promote competition by reserving 40 MHz or at least half of the available spectrum in the next auction for sale to the competition. We’re not asking for a government handout like the Twin Bells got. We’re just asking that the rules level the playing field to sustain a competitive market.” With pressure from multiple companies and agencies, the FCC will need to decide if a change in rules will be necessary for the upcoming auction.

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