AT&T and Verizon Wireless are less likely to dominate the next round of spectrum auctions because the FCC plans to limit how much spectrum one company can purchase, according to a report from Bloomberg. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is reportedly proposing that the agency should place limits on how many airwave licenses companies can purchase when the government host its largest spectrum auction since 2008. AT&T and Verizon purchased 80 percent of those licenses and remain the two largest networks with higher spectrum holdings than competitors.
Limiting the participation in the 2015 auctions would create more opportunities for Sprint or T-Mobile to acquire more licenses and improve their coverage. The spectrum up for sale reaches farther and penetrates buildings, so it is appealing to all carriers. Network operators will be keen to acquire as many licenses as possible as they compete to enhance coverage across the United States. In the interest of fairness and preventing the largest carriers from being able to shutdown the smaller ones because they have more money to spend and limit competition, the FCC is weighing options to give T-Mobile and Sprint a fighting chance. Though Chairman Wheeler did not definitely say the FCC would enact restrictions, he did state:
“All who want to participate in the auction will be able to bid. In order to assure coverage and competition in rural America, it may be necessary to assure no one can monopolize the bidding.”