New FCC Rules Would Keep Big Firms From Taking Small Business Credits

27 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After Net Neut, a CEO Gets Potty-mouth.

If Washington seems a place where folks line up saying “give us money,” that’s because folks line up saying “give us money.” It’s a long line but let your eyes drift down until they alight upon T-Mobile, TMUS -0.51 % the wireless carrier. “There is some serious s— about to go down in D.C.,” says its Viking-maned CEO John Legere in a YouTube statement promoted to the public, “and if you’re not p—ed off, you’re not paying attention.” And that’s the high point in cogency and intellectual honesty.The Federal Communications Commission is considering new rules for wireless spectrum auctions intended to help small carriers compete and prevent abuses by large ones. “The draft revised rules I circulated to the other commissioners today would provide greater flexibility for qualified small businesses so that they can better compete,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated in a post on the FCC’s blog. “In addition … the modernized rules will increase transparency and efficiency to prevent potential gaming or abuse.” The new rules would address two outstanding issues facing the FCC ahead of its 2016 spectrum auction: a request from T-Mobile’s to increase the amount of spectrum set aside for “small” carriers, and DISH Network’s exploitation at the last spectrum auction of a loophole that allowed it to claim over $3 billion in bid credits meant for small businesses. (RELATED: GOP Rep.

The country’s top communications regulator on Thursday rejected calls to dedicate more airwaves for smaller wireless carriers in an auction expected next year. Says DISH Drove Small Companies Out of Spectrum Bids) T-Mobile and its allies had argued that the two largest wireless providers, AT&T and Verizon, are consistently able to outbid smaller competitors at spectrum auctions, and with the upcoming auction representing one of the last opportunities to purchase valuable low-band spectrum, the companies had urged the FCC to make a greater share of the spectrum off-limits to those companies. Happily, the Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, gave a speech today to The Brookings Institution that should provide sufficient argument fodder for the full weekend, at least among policy dorks wonks.

While acknowledging the need to ensure fair competition, Wheeler rejected T-Mobile’s request, asserting his belief that the 30 megahertz of spectrum that the commission has already reserved will prove sufficient for that purpose. (RELATED: Legere Uses Celebrity to Push Anti-Consumer Proposal, Critics Say) The other major element of Wheeler’s proposal fulfills a promise he made several months ago to tighten the rules for the FCC’s “designated entity” (DE) program, which provides qualifying small businesses a taxpayer-funded rebate for 25 percent of the purchase price to help them compete against their larger rivals when bidding for spectrum. During his speech, which touched on a number of issues including net neutrality, spectrum and broadband penetration, Wheeler said the following [via prepared remarks]: Since we come together today on the heels of the D.C. Just this past week, Justice Department antitrust officials sent the FCC a letter urging them to give “considerable weight” to the request of smaller carriers.

Circuit’s decision rejecting requests to stay the Open Internet Order, let’s begin by addressing the relationship between broadband network openness and investment. As you know, this was a big argument by the ISPs in their stay request; that somehow assuring that networks are open would erode the incentive to invest.

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.” Bidding is anonymous during the auction, but Dish and the two entities stayed in contact with one another because they disclosed the arrangement in advance —something Wheeler is proposing to ban.

And, of course, the post-Open Internet announcements by AT&T, Bright House, CenturyLink, Cincinnati Bell, Comcast, Cox Cable, TDS Telecom, and Time Warner Cable about their plans to expand their broadband service certainly speak for themselves. The company found allies within the government: This month, the Justice Department sent letters to the F.C.C. urging it to earmark even more spectrum for smaller carriers. “There will be significant spectrum made available in all markets of the country to all bidders,” Mr. Wheeler wrote. “As a result, consumers will benefit directly from competition in all parts of the country.” The auction rules are expected to be voted on by all five commissioners, including Mr. Legere told his followers Thursday afternoon on Periscope, a live-streaming app. “I want you to understand, this is going to go on for another month or so.

But the battle is “not over yet,” a T-Mobile spokesman tells Consumer Electronics Daily. “The public conversation on the future of the mobile Internet continues. He implies T-Mobile needs the spectrum to serve rural America, but rural America’s problem isn’t a shortage of spectrum; it’s a shortage of customers to justify a build-out. An FCC chief whose authority is intact is a natural inhibitor to industry CEOs making disingenuous, scatological arguments in support of policy favors they seek.

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