Wireless Spectrum Rules Could Change: FCC
September 1, 2012

FCC Considering Changes To Wireless Spectrum Transfer Rules

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Federal regulators could be planning to revisit policies governing the transfer of wireless spectrum from one service provider to another in the near future, according to various media reports published this week.

On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sources told Anton Troianovski of the Wall Street Journal that the agency was considering a proposal that would alter rules governing airwave sales amongst telecom providers. A vote on that proposition is expected sometime this month.

The following day, a pair of anonymous FCC sources told Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Todd Shields that Chairman Julius Genachowski would likely discuss those potential changes to the organization's policy governing airwave rights (known as the spectrum screen) at a September 28 meeting.

Those officials did not know whether or not those alternations would make it easier or more difficult for companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless to purchase spectrum, Shields added.

"The companies need FCC approval as they seek to acquire airwaves to meet soaring demand for wireless data sparked by the popularity of smartphones such as Apple Inc.´s iPhone," the Bloomberg reporter said.

"The FCC´s test generally limits buyers to amassing one-third of airwaves in any market," he added. "Purchases that would carry a company´s holdings beyond that threshold invite extra scrutiny from the agency, which may require companies to sell airwaves so frequencies remain available for competitors."

Shields also noted that the FCC was readying an auction for spectrum that had been forfeited by television broadcasters in an attempt to help alleviate the shortage amongst mobile service providers.

"AT&T and Verizon seem to gobble up most of the new spectrum that becomes available, which helps them cement their already-significant leads in the marketplace," John Bergmayer, an attorney with Washington-based, non-profit public interest group Public Knowledge, told Bloomberg Businessweek via email. "To limit this, it´s important to update the screen before the broadcast incentive auctions take place."