T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert speaking on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Enlarge / T-Cellular CEO Mike Sievert speaks throughout a keynote at CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

Getty Pictures | Bloomberg

T-Cellular US CEO Mike Sievert yesterday fired again at AT&T and Verizon, saying the carriers’ complaints about T-Cellular acquiring extra spectrum licenses present that they’re afraid of competitors.

“The duopolists are scrambling to dam this new competitors any manner they’ll… Immediately within the unfamiliar place of not having a dominant stranglehold on the wi-fi market, and preferring to not meet the aggressive problem within the market, AT&T and Verizon are urging the FCC to sluggish T-Cellular down and choke off our potential to compete pretty for added radio spectrum,” Sievert wrote in a weblog publish.

As we wrote Monday, Verizon and AT&T have urged the Federal Communications Fee to impose limits on T-Cellular’s potential to acquire extra spectrum licenses. AT&T complained that T-Cellular’s acquisition of Dash allowed it to amass “an unprecedented focus of spectrum.”

Verizon in August petitioned the FCC to rethink its acceptance of a brand new lease that may give T-Cellular one other 10MHz to 30MHz of spectrum within the 600MHz band in 204 counties. However “the primary occasion,” in response to Sievert, is the FCC’s upcoming C-band spectrum public sale in December, which can distribute 280MHz of spectrum within the 3.7–3.98GHz band.

“Anticipated to boost many billions of {dollars} for American taxpayers, the C-band is the most important pool of latest spectrum anticipated any time within the close to future,” Sievert wrote. “The outcomes of the public sale will form market competitors and community development within the US for years to return.”

Verizon instructed the FCC that “T-Cellular already holds licenses for 311MHz of low- and mid-band spectrum nationwide,” greater than AT&T and Verizon mixed and nicely above the FCC’s 250MHz “spectrum display.” The FCC makes use of this spectrum display as one knowledge level in its public-interest analyses, however the 250MHz display is not a hard-and-fast restrict, and T-Cellular says it needs to be allowed to buy extra spectrum licenses.

Sievert identified that Verizon has extra spectrum than T-Cellular when together with high-band spectrum that is not counted within the FCC’s display:

Citing the “spectrum display”, AT&T and Verizon wish to preserve T-Cellular out of the bidding or at the very least put a damper on our potential to aggressively bid towards them on this vital public sale, in order that they’ll run the desk unchecked. The “spectrum display” was put in place years in the past with good intention and broad assist together with from T-Cellular—to assist guarantee competitors out there when spectrum provide was restricted—however is now being cited by AT&T and Verizon for causes completely reverse to this intention. And importantly, the “spectrum display” pre-dates, and subsequently ignores, sure 5G spectrum the place Verizon already dominates. Actually, Verizon holds huge spectrum (excess of T-Cellular’s total portfolio of low, mid-, and high-band spectrum) within the “millimeter wave” bands, that are the cornerstone of their 5G technique and which aren’t topic to the “spectrum display”.

Verizon has essentially the most spectrum of any US provider “by far” however “has the anti-competitive instincts and sheer audacity to complain {that a} a lot smaller T-Cellular has an excessive amount of,” Sievert wrote. “After holding huge spectrum benefits over T-Cellular and others for many years, Verizon and AT&T simply cannot stand the thought of anybody else being forward of them or having a good shot in an public sale the place they plan to make use of their monetary would possibly to do what they’ve all the time finished—dominate.”

Sievert additionally wrote that the 600MHz spectrum T-Cellular is leasing was beforehand managed by AT&T. “AT&T had received at public sale the spectrum that Columbia Capital is now leasing to T-Cellular and—guess what—AT&T determined it did not need it and bought it to Columbia,” Sievert wrote. “Verizon, the ringleader in opposing this lease, by no means bothered to even present up and bid for any 600MHz spectrum. In brief, we now have AT&T and Verizon looking for to dam T-Cellular from utilizing spectrum that AT&T determined to jettison, and Verizon had little interest in pursuing. Now each firms are looking for to dam T-Cellular from placing this spectrum to make use of for the good thing about American shoppers.”

Combat to proceed forward of public sale

The dueling statements counsel that the provider battle will proceed within the months forward because the C-band public sale attracts close to. “If T-Cellular participates within the public sale, the Fee will virtually actually be compelled to contend—for the primary time—with the scenario of making use of its spectrum display (and post-auction case-by-case evaluate) to an acquisition of licenses by an applicant whose holdings already exceed the display by a large margin,” AT&T mentioned in its FCC submitting final week.

The spectrum display is more likely to be raised from 250Mhz to 345MHz after the public sale to account for elevated availability of licenses, AT&T mentioned. T-Cellular already has greater than 345MHz in some elements of the US, and there are “many different” US markets the place T-Cellular would exceed 345MHz if it wins any spectrum within the public sale, AT&T mentioned.

The public sale is scheduled to start on December 8, and preliminary “short-form” purposes had been due yesterday. The FCC will evaluate the purposes after which launch an inventory of bidders.

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