Networking

Months After Failed AT&T Merger, T-Mobile Champions Competitive Balance

Given its very recent attempts to merge with AT&T, you would think T-Mobile wouldn't be a vocal proponent of maintaining competitive balance in the wireless industry.

The reality, however, is that T-Mobile has had no issues repositioning itself as a champion of small carriers everywhere in its vocal opposition to Verizon's proposed deal to purchase spectrum from several major cable companies. During a conference call held by the newly formed Alliance for Broadband Competition Monday, T-Mobile Regulatory Affairs Vice President Kathleen Ham said that her company is opposed to Verizon's prospective spectrum acquisition because of the impact it will have on consumers.

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"Our principle opposition comes down to the public interest," she said during the call. "It will lead to excessive concentration of spectrum in the hands of the nation's largest carrier."

Ham went on to say that Verizon's acquisition of the spectrum would block competitors from getting the spectrum they needed to launch their own LTE offerings and also criticized Verizon for sitting on a significant chunk of LTE-capable spectrum that could be used to enhance its current mobile broadband services. She also questioned why Verizon would already need more spectrum for LTE when only 9% of its subscribers are using the network and when the company isn't even close to hitting capacity on its LTE services.

To further emphasize Ham's arguments, T-Mobile released a statement outlining its core objections to the proposed deal, especially emphasizing that the company believes the deal to be "against the public interest."

T-Mobile's opposition to the proposed Verizon deal comes on the heels of its recent acquisition of 7MHz of spectrum that it received from AT&T as compensation for the failed merger between the two carriers. With the new spectrum in tow, T-Mobile at last has enough to build out its own nationwide LTE network using the 1710MHz-1755MHz band for the uplink and 2110MHz-2155MHz band for the downlink. T-Mobile has said that it will launch its own LTE services next year.

Verizon's plan to buy AWS spectrum has been controversial ever since the company announced late last year that it planned to purchase 122 AWS licenses from Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House for $3.6 billion. The company subsequently worked out a deal with Cox to purchase 20MHz on the AWS band for $315 million. The deal has attracted the attention of both lawmakers and government regulators as the FCC has asked Verizon to deliver a wide range of information on its spectrum holdings and its plans for the spectrum it wants to acquire from the cable companies. Among other things, the letter asked Verizon to detail why spectrum in the prized lower 700MHz band was not suitable for expanding out LTE at a nationwide level; whether the company had considered repurposing spectrum currently used for other services; to provide all analyses about how Verizon would use the companies' spectrum for its LTE services and to detail the cost impacts of adding the spectrum to its LTE portfolio; and to provide a timeline of all talks between Verizon and the cable companies leading up to their proposed spectrum deal.

Brad Reed covers Google, wireless carriers and mobile applications for Network World. Be sure to check out Google Reed-er, a blog filled with his ramblings on Google and whatever else he feels like discussing. Follow him on Twitter at @bwreednww.

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