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AT&T Communications Government United States Technology

Bidding At FCC TV Spectrum Auction May Be Restricted For Large Carriers 91

An anonymous reader writes "Rumors have surfaced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will restrict bidding at their TV spectrum auction in 2015 to effectively favor smaller carriers. Specifically, when 'auction bidding hits an as-of-yet unknown threshold in a given market, the FCC would set aside up to 30MHz of spectrum in that market. Companies that hold at least one-third of the low-band spectrum in that market then wouldn't be allowed to bid on the 30MHz of spectrum that has been set aside.' Therefore, 'in all band plans less than 70MHz, restricted bidders—specifically AT&T and Verizon (and in a small number of markets, potentially US Cellular or CSpire)—would be limited to bidding for only three blocks.' The rumors may be true since AT&T on Wednesday threatened to not participate in the auction at all as a protest against what it sees as unfair treatment."
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Bidding At FCC TV Spectrum Auction May Be Restricted For Large Carriers

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  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @12:52AM (#46776641) Journal

    Well, to begin with, if the big players want that bandwidth they'll just buy whoever buys it. Problem solved. If some of the bidders are shell companies created for just such a contingency, so much the better.

  • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @12:56AM (#46776659)

    "AT&T on Wednesday threatened to not participate in the auction at all"

    Good, that leaves more spectrum for the companies that actually need it, instead of wannabe monopolists that have spectrum to spare.

  • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @01:05AM (#46776681)

    They aren't picking favorites, they are setting limits on greed.

    There is nothing wrong with kicking fatty out the door when he goes back for his 10th plate at the buffet line, especially when you find out he was saving some of it for "later"
    (In reference to Verizon's purchase of the 700mhz block A spectrum that they never got around to using)

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:30AM (#46776971) Journal
    Don't forget market power: something that no sane individual trusts a telco to exercise benignly, and which even ardent free-marketeers recognize as pernicious if abused.

    If fatty were benevolent, well liked, and known for fairness and decency, there'd be no reason to kick him out just for being the fat guy. However 'benevolent', 'well liked' and 'known for fairness and decency' are not concepts you associate with the phone company. Terms like 'smirking, sociopathic fuckweasels' more usually come to mind. You don't want any of them getting their hands on more market power than absolutely cannot be avoided.
  • by non0score ( 890022 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:40AM (#46777003)
    No, there's no "fascinating question that makes this debate interesting". The government should prevent any market condition where a hostile monopoly may manifest. Full stop.

    AT&T and Verizon has proven that they can and will abuse their oligopoly position and not compete. This will not change in any foreseeable circumstance short of being forced into a competitive landscape. The duty of government then is to lower the barrier to entry, which, in this case, the barrier is the amazing amount of cash AT&T and Verizon has to outbid everyone else.

    And if you object to taxpayers subsidizing, then I can simply point you at the cost of running any government agency that (ostensibly?) promotes fair competition: e.g. SEC. The cost to hire lawyers, set up offices, conduct audits, litigate -- none of that is free. Do I see you label "preventing and punishing insider trading" as an "interesting debate since it has no objectively correct answer" in a cost analysis? No, of course not, because it's desirable and everything has an associated cost to begin with.
  • by gnupun ( 752725 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @04:54AM (#46777359)

    Why are they still developing it? What are the goals of the new design? Who is target market for the new design? There should be a slashdot poll asking which format users prefer:
    a) beta
    b) classic
    c) both
    With this we can discover if the naysayers are a minority or not.

    It seems pointless to continue developing something so inferior (but slightly prettier) to the original. Just create a nicer looking skin for classic and be done with it.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:10AM (#46777733) Homepage Journal

    You're assuming that the taxpayer getting as much money directly from a sale as possible is in some way legitimate government policy.

    The government is not a business and the "taxpayer" has more interests than simply short term reduction of their taxes. In particular a lower cost of living, something we'll get if there's better competition and if we don't force businesses in general to have absurd unnecessary costs, is likely to benefit us more.

    Short term "maximizing direct revenues from auctions" thinking is what got us into the stupid situation where spectrum auctions are geographic, resulting in decades of overpriced, poor quality, cellular service. It's also part of a mentality that's undermining every attempt to have the private sector provide quality infrastructure in the first place, usually at great social and economic cost to the rest of us. The same idiocy, practiced through property taxes, is in part why the entire railroad system in the US collapsed in the 1960s and 1970s.

    We need to get away from that kind of thinking, and start looking at cost of living issues rather than what tax rate we can get away with.

  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @08:12AM (#46777963) Homepage

    It's an interesting quandary for the FCC. AT&T and Verizon can and will pay more for the spectrum to be auctioned. That means US taxpayers get more money, which is what is supposed to happen when the government is selling public airwaves.

    Only if you look at the sales of the spectrum. Subtract all the monthly cell phone plan payments those taxpayers are making and AT&T/Verizon don't look like such a great deal any longer.

    Too big to fail is a recipe for disaster. When a market gets dominated by one or two players, they should be handicapped until their customers have incentive to flee elsewhere and the market share drops to a moderate level. This should be done whether they're doing anything wrong or not - it is just good for the economy. Nothing personal - just business.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.