AT&T petitions FCC for 5G spectrum screen

Joan Marsh - AT&T 16.9.jpg

AT&T confirms that it has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to add extra screening for 5G spectrum.

In a blog post, Joan Marsh, AT&T's executive vice president of federal regulatory relations said that the separate spectrum screen for mid-band spectrum would "assist the Commission in identifying spectrum aggregations that may cause competitive harm by allowing a licensee to hold so much mid-band spectrum in a given market that it becomes impossible for others to compete effectively".

Marsh says that the screen would not place a cap on how much spectrum a company can have but will act as a filter which in the case a telco holds more than a third of  "the relevant frequencies in a market area", the screen will alert the FCC into launching further investigation into " potential for competitive harms."

AT&T reminds us that in the case of frequencies below 1GHz, which was considered critical for the delivery of 4G/LTE, the FCC created a separate screen for this spectrum and wants the Commission to do the same for 5G.

Without naming names, Marsh mentions that large blocks of mid-band spectrum is "unduly concentrated in the hands of one or two licensees" and as a result, "5G competition is likely to falter".

Its fair to assume that T-Mobile and Verizon are the aforementioned holders of the large blocks of spectrum as both companies both have were among the biggest winners of 3.7GHz service licenses in March of this year.

Verizon came out on top spending more than $45 billion and securing 3,511 though its company Cellco Partnership. While AT&T won 1,621 licences for over $23 billion, through its AT&T Spectrum Frontiers company.

T-Mobile by comparison only won 142 licences for roughly $9 billion, but this adds to the significant spectrum it gained through its acquisition of Sprint last year.

Last year saw T-Mobile US CEO and president, Mike Sievert alleges that the “two behemoths” AT&T and Verizon “who dwarf T-Mobile in revenues and market cap” petitioned the government regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to prevent T-Mobile from having access to wireless spectrum in the upcoming mid-band spectrum auction.