FCC issues 600-MHz Auction Rules, Which Suggest No Sprint Bid for T-Mobile Until Late 2015, At the Earliest

A useful rule of thumb for assessing the “neutrality” any proposed Federal Communications Commission regulation or policy is that if both larger service providers and small service providers are somewhat unhappy--but not super unhappy--about the guidelines, the FCC probably has managed to get the new policies just about right.

That might well be the case for FCC rules about upcoming 600 MHz spectrum auctions, which will get spectrum set-asides for smaller carriers (AT&T and Verizon opposed that measure; Sprint and T-Mobile US supported the measure), and also prevent “package bidding” favored by AT&T and Verizon, but were considered unfavorable for smaller providers.

Package bidding would have allowed "all-or-nothing" bids for groups of licenses.

By barring such bidding on blocks of licenses, the Commission hopes to encourage smaller carriers to bid on rural licenses with a higher chance of success.

But Sprint and T-Mobile US would find themselves unable to bid on the reserved spectrum if any merger bids between the two companies occur before the auction process.

Some think that means there will be no Sprint bid to acquire T-Mobile US until after the auctions are completed, sometime in 2015.
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