Sprint Complains to FCC Over Proposed Spectrum Screen

Posted by at 12:27 pm on May 2, 2014

Sprint submitted a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission this week in response to the FCC’s suggested spectrum screen reforms.

The FCC established spectrum screens to help it weigh how much spectrum is owned by wireless network operators in a given market. There is a cap on the amount of spectrum any one carrier can own in a given market. The FCC uses the screen to assess mergers and acquisitions. At present, the screens do not include Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum, which it acquired from Clearwire last year.

The FCC wants to change the screen so Sprint’s 2.5GHz airwaves are included. If this happens, Sprint will exceed the allowable amount of spectrum in most markets around the country, which could effectively preclude it from acquiring more spectrum. Sprint argued that weighing all spectrum (low-, mid-, and high-band) equally puts it at a disadvantage compared to AT&T and Verizon, which would have lots of headroom to purchase more spectrum.

It proposes that the FCC weigh the low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum ranges separately, which would put all four national carriers on more even footing. “By treating all spectrum as equal for spectrum screen purposes, the staff’s recommendation undermines the consistency and sustainability of a 600MHz auction reserve and the overall spectrum holdings package,” argued Sprint. “A three-tiered weighted screen would correct the staff recommendation’s failure to recognize the relative utility of and resultant impact on competition of using different spectrum bands in wireless broadband networks.”

The FCC is scheduled to vote on the spectrum screen alteration on May 15.

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