T-Mobile Asks FCC to Reject Repack Reconsideration

Company calls it broadcaster attack on 39-month timeline that came too late

T-Mobile has asked the FCC to deny broadcasters' efforts to get the commission to reconsider parts of the post-incentive auction repack.

In a March 17 petition for reconsideration filed at the FCC, the National Association of Broadcasters said the commission made a number of mistakes in setting up the auction, including making it overly complicated and not letting stations that had dropped out back in, and created a framework for repacking that does not sufficiently take into account the "unprecedented logistical and operational challenges" both for the commission and industry. NAB says the 39-month timeline for broadcasters clearing off spectrum to make way for winning wireless bidders is not enough time. 

In response, T-Mobile, which was the top bidder in the incentive auction, paying $8 billion for broadcast spectrum it wants to get access to as swiftly as possible, filed in opposition to reconsideration.

"NAB’s petition is an impermissible collateral attack on the 39-month repacking timeline disguised as a petition for reconsideration of the Media Bureau’s Post-Incentive Auction Transition Scheduling Plan," T-Mobile told the FCC. Impermissible, T-Mobile says, because the deadline for challenging the 39-month timeline, which was approved almost three years ago, has long passed.

NAB associate general counsel Patrick McFadden fired back at T-Mobile Wednesday in a blog post that pulled no punches.

"What the FCC does next has important implications for broadcasters and their viewers across the country. T-Mobile’s latest project is to cram – no pun intended, I swear – down everyone’s throat a nearly wholesale reorganization of broadcast television stations in record time," he writes. "Never mind if it relies on faulty assumptions and heavy handshakes and leaves underserved communities without access to over-the-air television or radio. Hey, rules are meant to be broken, right?"