Confirming earlier reports in B&C and MultiChannel News, an FCC official has confirmed that the chairman is sticking with his proposal to set aside 30 MHz of low-band broadcast spectrum for competitive wireless carriers in the upcoming incentive auction.
That came from an FCC official speaking on background to reporters in a briefing about a related subject, new small business bidding rules for the upcoming broadcast incentive auction, and future wireless auctions in general.
Asked about the 30 MHz reserve in the incentive auction, which T-Mobile has been pushing the FCC to increase to 40 MHZ, the official said the plan was to deny the T-Mobile petition and stick with 30 MHz.
That is how much spectrum the FCC will open up to bidders other than AT&T and Verizon, which together already have the majority of low-band spectrum, as well as the majority of wireless customers.
T-Mobile was not giving up, given that the full FCC has not yet voted on the chairman's plan--it is scheduled to July 16--and edits and changes are still possible.
“Low-band spectrum is the holy grail for AT&T and Verizon," said T-Mobile SV, government affairs, Andy Levin. "If others get it, and the Big Two have to compete on price, their customers alone would save over $20 billion per year. That's why everyone with a wireless phone has a stake in the outcome of this proceeding, and the FCC should heed the calls of DOJ, many in Congress and a slew of consumer groups and move to strengthen the reserve.”
The past week has seen letters from a host of high-profile Democrats (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/more-democrats-push-fcc...) and one from the Justice Department (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/doj-signals-preference-...), all signaling they thought the FCC should reserve low-band spectrum for competitive carriers sufficient to promote competition.