T-Mobile has a plan for part of the broadcast incentive
auctions -- the one where, presumably, wireless companies primarily bid for
reclaimed spectrum -- and it involved a sliding spectrum screen depending on
how the bidding goes.
The FCC has asked for input in a separate proceeding on
whether it should adjust the screen it uses to gauge whether concentration of
spectrum in individual markets triggers additional scrutiny for anticompetitive
But T-Mobile is recommending that its auction rules include
a built-in sliding screen, which it pitches as a way to provide a real-world
test of such a screen applied to auctions in general. "By relying on
actual bids rather than predictions of bidder behavior, the Dynamic Market Rule
helps remove any risk that revenue targets for clearing broadcasters and
funding the FirstNet public safety network will not be met," the company
According to the company, which outlined the proposal Monday,
in meetings last week with FCC staffers, T-Mobile proposed a "Dynamic
Market Rule," which it billed as a "seamless" way to ensure
against "excessive concentration" of low-band spectrum.
Under the rule, bidding would begin with "spectrum
aggregation" limits, with a carve-out that would allow AT&T and
Verizon, the two largest carriers, to bid on a block of 5 MHz in markets where
they exceed the screen -- which would be one-third of the low-band spectrum in
a market. If the FCC meets its revenue target, that auction could close. But if
not, the screen would be gradually relaxed, and ultimately lifted altogether.
"Imposing modest constraints on excessive
low-band spectrum aggregation will promote competition, increase consumer
choice, encourage innovation, and accelerate broadband deployment," the
company said. It would also allow less-concentrated players, like T-Mobile -- a
better chance to get spectrum in those markets.