Groups: FCC should deny AT&T spectrum purchase

The FCC should combine its review of AT&T's Qualcomm and T-Mobile deals, consumer groups say

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission should deny AT&T's plan to buy US$1.9 billion worth of wireless spectrum from Qualcomm because of the telecom carrier's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, several consumer groups said Wednesday.

The FCC should combine its reviews of the two deals, Free Press, Public Knowledge, Consumers Union and other groups wrote in a letter to the agency.

"The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would reshape the entire American wireless industry in a single stroke," the groups wrote. "With possible approval of this transaction lingering on the horizon, the Public Interest Organizations can no longer imagine conditions that could outweigh the risk of competitive harm posed by the further growth of AT&T through acquisition of additional beachfront spectrum licenses from Qualcomm."

AT&T announced in March its plans to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. In December, the carrier said it intends to buy Qualcomm spectrum licenses in the lower 700MHz band for $1.9 billion.

Mobile broadband experts see the 700MHz band as prime spectrum for offering mobile broadband services. Signals in the 700MHz band travel farther and penetrate buildings and other physical objects better than in higher spectrum bands.

AT&T did not immediately respond to the letter. The company defended the T-Mobile acquisition in a recent blog post, saying the deal will be good for customers.

The acquisition "will address capacity constraints that both of our companies face, which will enable the combined company to provide improved services in the many urban, suburban, and rural markets where the enormous surge in broadband usage is fast consuming available capacity," wrote Joan Marsh , AT&T's vice president of federal regulatory affairs. "What this means is fewer dropped calls, fewer failed call attempts, and better data throughput."

The consumer groups disagreed. The two deals "would further empower an already dominant wireless carrier to leverage its control over devices, backhaul, and consumers in ways that stifle competition," the groups wrote.

AT&T must prove that the proposed transfer of spectrum licenses serves the public interest, the groups said. "The harm to consumers and to competition exceeds any potential benefits of the transfer," the letter added. "Licenses for beachfront spectrum below 1 GHz are disproportionately held by two companies, AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The proposed Qualcomm license transfer would only further this competitive disparity."

Other groups signing the letter were the New America Foundation and the Media Access Project.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags New America FoundationantitrusttelecommunicationregulationConsumers UnionqualcommmobileT-Mobile USAPublic KnowledgeJoan MarshMedia Access Projectat&tlegalU.S. Federal Communications Commissiongovernmentbroadbandbusiness issuesfree pressMergers / acquisitions

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?