Sen. Judiciary Sets Witnesses For Wireless Hearing

Sprint weighs in beforehand, saying marketplace clearly isn't competitive

The Senate Antitrust Subcommittee has set its witness list for Wednesday's hearing on competition in the wireless industry.

The hearing will look at issues including spectrum availability and potential consolidation. The first issue implicated the broadcast incentive auction. The FCC is currently considering modifications to its local market spectrum screen that could affect participation in the auction by AT&T and Verizon.

On the witness list are Eric Graham, C Spire Wireless; Roslyn Layton, Center for Communication, Media and Information Technologies; Randal Milch, Verizon Communications; Jonathan Spalter, Mobile Future; Thomas Sugrue, T-Mobile USA; and Matt Wood, Free Press.

Sprint does not have a witness, but it clearly has a point to make about competition.

"By any rigorous analysis, the marketplace is not fully competitive today," Sprint said in a statement before the hearing. "The U.S. wireless industry is dominated by the two largest carriers, AT&T and Verizon, which together corner 70 percent of the industry’s revenues and control around 75% of the highly-advantageous low-band spectrum."

It is beachfront low-band spectrum that is being made available in the broadcast incentive auction and Sprint wants the FCC to insure that companies other than Verizon and AT&T can get some of that spectrum.

“Congress and the regulators, together, have a critical role in ensuring an environment that promotes robust marketplace competition. Consumers want mobile broadband internet access—more every day. Businesses of all types increasingly rely on mobile broadband internet access. Yet the trend toward duopoly in the wireless industry today is causing the U.S. to fall behind in providing the fast, world-class networks needed for the future."

“Sprint is committed to building the mobile broadband network of the future, but to do so we need policies that promote competition, including access to sufficient low band spectrum and reasonably-priced backhaul, as well as the scale to compete cost-effectively."