Ex-Regulator: Four Key Questions on AT&T’s Purchase of T-Mobile - Monday, March 21, 2011
During the Clinton years, the agency imposed limits on how much spectrum any one company could hold. But those were eliminated by the Bush administration—and the issue has remained a partisan sore spot ever since.
(Full disclosure: Until last summer, I was chief counsel and senior policy adviser to the current chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, and before that, I was an adviser to Commissioner Michael J. Copps.)
Democrats have typically argued that no one company should control more than one-third of existing mobile spectrum, to ensure the existence of at least three competitors.
Republicans maintain that spectrum ought to be allocated through open markets—if a company has succeeded in attracting customers and cash flow, it deserves access to the spectrum necessary to serve them.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, because (1) wireless is the growth engine of all of tech and telecom right now and (2) wireless carriers are rolling out next-generation 4G technologies, which will offer speeds several times faster than what are available today.