Get ready for more angry John Legere videos. The Federal Communications Commission doesn't plan on giving T-Mobile the extra help that it's been looking for in the upcoming spectrum auction, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said today. T-Mobile, Sprint, Dish, and other small carriers have been pushing for the FCC to set aside more spectrum for them to bid on that would be safe from AT&T and Verizon — two giants that could easily outspend all of them. The Justice Department even sent a letter to the commission this week suggesting that it take T-Mobile's request into heavy consideration. The commission may have done that, but its answer is still "no."
30MHz hits the balance the FCC is looking for, Wheeler says
Even though T-Mobile may not be getting everything it wanted, the situation isn't a complete loss. The spectrum being set aside for it to bid may be as large as 30MHz, and T-Mobile really only wanted to see it raised up to 40MHz. That means there's still a significant portion of spectrum that these smaller carriers can bid on and win at lower prices. "The draft order concludes that the current reserve size of 30 megahertz balances the desire to make low-band spectrum available to parties with limited holdings while facilitating competitive bidding for all auction participants," Wheeler writes in a blog post.
The situation is hugely important to T-Mobile and these other carriers because this is the last chance that they're going to have for, possibly, decades to bid on spectrum that's just this good. The upcoming auction, scheduled for the first quarter of next year, will give carriers — and would-be carriers like Dish — the chance to acquire 600MHz spectrum, which travels long distances and has good penetration inside of buildings. It's a way for these companies to make their cell networks a lot more capable, so any advantage they can get to acquire more of it is a huge win. T-Mobile may not be getting the victory that it wanted, but you probably wouldn't say that it's losing, either.