AT&T has asked the Federal Communications Commission to add a special selection for coveted spectrum that could be used to build next-generation wireless networks, the company said on Wednesday.
Although AT&T does not name the competitors in its blog post announcing the petition, it is a proposal that, if passed, could have significant consequences for AT & T’s main rivals: T-Mobile and T-Mobile. Verizon.
Indeed, these players hold significant assets in the mid-band spectrum, which are considered optimal for building 5G wireless networks. T-Mobile has acquired significant spectrum through its highly competitive acquisition of Sprint, and Verizon won a slew of spectrum licenses in a closely watched auction earlier this year.
AT&T also made a profit, but significant debt decimated the company. So an additional screen for mid-band spectrum sales could be particularly beneficial for AT&T, which does not want to be left out of the race for 5G coverage.
Joan Marsh, AT&T Executive Vice President for Federal Regulatory Relations, wrote in a blog post that a mid-band spectrum screen would already be the same for other types of spectrum and would not cap the total amount. of spectrum available to the company.
Instead, it will give the agency the opportunity to take a closer look at the potential pitfalls of competition. Marsh said a screen would be operational when a spectrum acquisition would give a single entity more than a third of the frequencies relevant in a given market segment.
“As such blocks become concentrated in the hands of one or two licensees, 5G competition is likely to weaken,” Marsh wrote.
When T-Mobile proposed its merger with Sprint, the Democratic state attorney general was only concerned about the concentration of power in the hands of a few wireless networks. But a court ultimately cleared the deal after Trump’s Justice Department approved it.
Representatives for the FCC, T-Mobile and Verizon did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the petition.
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