Tag Archives: fcc

T-Mobile Led the FCC’s Incentive Auction That Drew $19.8 Billion

T-Mobile's FCC Incentive Auction

Conducted recently by the Federal Communications Commission, what is known to be the World’s First Broadcast Incentive Auction, has been a great mix of events!

The auction drew $19.8 billion in bids, out of which T-Mobile spent $8 billion. Thus, becoming the leader of the auction. With a number of mobile, wireless, and long distance phone service providers, the spectrum auction by FCC has been a hit.

However, certain events started a buzz in the telecommunications industry.

T-Mobile Participating and Leading the Auction

Among the behemoth prepaid and cheap home phone service providers, T-Mobile managed to win the most number of licenses with its huge spending of $8 billion. According to the FCC, the telecommunication company won the auction for more than 1,500 spectrum blocks, ranging to more than 400 markets.

According to a Twitter update by Neville Ray, the Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile, “T-Mobile expects 1 million+ sq. miles of 600 MHz will clear in 2017 AND we will begin deployment this year in new & existing markets,”

Thus, the winning spectrum is to be used by the prepaid and long distance phone service provider, to its best. The subscribers are also said to require an upgrade of their phone quipment to be capable of getting great network services in the latest band.

This latest buzz is turning out to be great for the wireless and mobile users of T-Mobile.

The Participation by Other Companies

Besides T-Mobile US Inc., the other two among the top buyers in the auction were Dish Network Corp. and Comcast Corp. The two companies spent $6.2 billion and $1.7 billion, respectively.

The participation of companies like Comcast that isn’t even involved in cellular services yet is a great sign of some changes coming in the telecommunications industry.

Surprisingly, the telecommunication behemoths like AT&T and Verizon did not seem active during the auction.

Whereas AT&T, one of the best long distance phone service providers, spent $910 million only on licenses, Verizon declined to place any bid.

About the auction, Verizon said that spending on the spectrum uses a great amount of capital as the waves are quite expensive. The mobile and cheap home phone service provider is interested in investing in improved technology, instead.

Though Verizon didn’t spend on the airwaves, the telecommunication giant seems quite poised to grow its network.

Another reason for AT&T and Verizon’s cold response at the auction can be their recent investment of a billion dollars in the high-frequency airwaves. With these investments, both the mobile and cheap home phone service providers are aiming at growing their ultrafast networks.

However, the absence and less participation of both these telecommunication companies has raised a number of questions with a number of people being surprised by the news.

Final Thoughts

Until today, T-Mobile has not held any low-band frequencies and thus, its network has been weak and interrupted in the rural areas as well as in buildings. Thus, its investment in the airwaves is an important step towards the growth and betterment of this prepaid and long distance phone service provider’s network.

FCC’s Spectrum Auction Bidding to Conclude on Wednesday

Federal Communications Commission


Against all speculations of extension, broadcaster bidding in the FCC’s reverse spectrum auction will finally close on Wednesday as per FCC’s Incentive Auction dashboard. It was scheduled to run just 52 rounds initially, but now two more rounds can be added on Wednesday.

As per the announcement made by the FCC on Friday “The auction schedule displayed in the Auction System and the Public Reporting System currently shows rounds scheduled through round 54.” “While the auction could conclude before then, we put bidders on notice that it could also continue longer and that they should plan accordingly. The base clock price will reach $0 in round 52; however, it is possible to have up to two additional bidding rounds if the final bidding status has not yet been determined for any VHF stations.”

BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk said on Monday that the FCC will disclose the amount that will be topped to conclude the forward auction, at the end of reverse auction. This amount will be determined by adding both the provisional winning bids from reverse auction and $1.75 billion for dissipating expenditures and FC administrative costs.

As per the FCC, if this amount is not topped in the forward auction, the reverse auction will start again with a reduced amount of Spectrum on the table. This procedure would go on until the clearing target sum is achieved by forward auction bids.

Piecyk shared that a clearing target above $50 billion can make investors think about a longer auction procedure, including several rounds and, noted a goal of more than $70 billion may “stoke fears that the auction could drag into 2017 or that the FCC will not be able to source much spectrum in the big markets at an attractive price.”

On the contrary, Piecyk mentioned that a clearing target of $30 billion or fewer might result in a faster auction timeline for investors and suggest that the FCC had the potential to secure 100MHz of new spectrum in most markets all over the country.

ROBOCOP Act: The Act to Stop Unwanted Calls Rises Again in Senate

robocop act

The act that would coerce service providers to enable customers to block unwanted automated and prerecorded robocalls was introduced two months ago by Jackie Speier, Congresswoman. Under the act, consumers would have the choice of whether or not they want to use a call blocker. The bill is currently lying indolently in committee. The reason cited by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, mentions that permission needs to be given from FCC and without its approval, robocall blockers cannot be deployed, which authorities have claimed to be wrong.

Chuck Schumer, New York Senator, announced at his weekly press event on Sunday that he would be reintroducing the ROBOCOP Act, which would instruct the FCC to necessitate that telephone service providers give their customers access to robocall-blocking technology without any charge.

“Despite the existing ‘Do Not Call’ registry, the robocall problem has returned in a serious way,” said Schumer. “It’s an epidemic that we’ve got to stop — whether it’s the landline or the mobile phone. It’s taking far too long for telecom companies to act.”

Chuck Bell from Consumers Union was also present to stand beside Schumer in demanding federal lawmakers do something about robocalls.

He said “Most Americans have signed up for the Do Not Call list, but the unwanted calls from telemarketers and scam artists have just gotten worse.”

The present mounting issue with robocalls is that the majority of them come from ID thieves and scammers, who care about very little about any laws against the practice. Most of these use spoofed numbers, which is legal if done without intention to defraud, such as protecting news sources. But it also makes it much more difficult for investigators to track culprits.

In spite of the availability of certain methods to reduce these calls, the number that has been deployed so far by telecom service providers on any large scale is very small.

Certain campaigns to end robocalls have been ongoing to compel companies to stop making excuses and block the infuriating robocalls.

FCC Wants Landline to Be Treated the Same Way as Broadband


The FCC heads back to the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C to argue that it has the authority to regulate the existing internet providers with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all the legal content over the Internet is treated equally.

Users have a complaint against the company regarding net neutrality rules twice in front of the same court and beside one judge in particular, David Tatel. Previously, Tatel and his robed crew came to a conclusion that the FCC hasn’t had enough legal ground to regulate Internet access as if it is a public utility like electricity and water service and has sided with the opponents, internet access companies.

However, things are expected to go in a different way. Close sources revealed that Tatel’s previous ruling built a “roadmap” for the present ruling and a new Framework that the FCC can work with. The turning point, in this case, is that the FCC is defining “broadband” in a more unique way than before. It has now started including it under a statute known as Title II, that places broadband in the realm of telephone service. As the FCC has complete power to regulate phones, the agency argued that it had a solid case where it can attach most of the telephone rules to broadband.

In addition, the FCC is content as the Obama administration constantly supports the new rules to make another legal attempt if they lose this particular round. What matters the most is the FCC has promised it is not willing to set prices for high-speed Internet services and assured that new regulations will not allow them to that power.

Prison Call Charges Cut Up for FCC Vote


Prison’s in Arkansas are about to lose millions of dollars in revenue if the Federal Communication Commission votes this week to slash inmate landline rates. According to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the rule is to be changed making federal prison inmate’s calls no more than $1.65 for a time duration of 15 minutes. In addition, the rate caps range from 14 cents a minute to 22 cents a minute, depending on inmate population numbers. Though this proposal was brutally discourage, it doesn’t restrict prisons from collecting a commission on a phone call. This practice is expected to generate more than $3 million for the prison system this fiscal year.

“If the FCC does adopt this as a final rule, it will cost not only our state prison system in excess of a million dollars, but it will impact our county jails, which recoup fees from prisoners in a similar manner,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “There is a cost impact to both the state and the counties that we’ll have to address.”

According to FCC, the prison phone service is a $1.2 billion enterprise for lockups. The state corrections department received above $1.7 million in commissions in fiscal 2015 that ended on June 30. According to Cathy Frye, Correction Department Spokesperson, the revenue from the prison system’s telecom contract for fiscal 2016 is around $3 million.

In addition, Community Correction is paid a 79% commission for all the inmate telephone calls within the state. Moreover, the Corrections Department receives 73% commission on both local and statewide calls and is expected to increase later but it depends solely on the cost of establishing a video system. The call rates in Arkansas are much lower than the national average of $3 for a 15 minute in-state call. Other states such as Minnesota charges $6.45 for 15 minute inmate calls.

FCC Needs to Follow Procedure If Special Cases Are Re-Regulated

Federal Communication Comission

According to United States Telecom Association, the FCC needs to follow correct procedures if they somehow re-regulate special access. Earlier, a joint letter was filed by Birch Communications, BT Americans and Level 3 in which they claimed that the FCC has the power to adopt regulations governing rates for ILEC special access services. However, US Telecom stated that the FCC is unable to re-write existing laws and the filed letter “distorts the scope of the agency’s discretion, which is constrained by the Communications Act, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the Commission’s own decisions, and mischaracterizes the level of deference that courts typically afford agencies under Chevron and another precedent that hold agencies to a considerably higher standard in carrying out their rulemaking responsibilities.”

US Telecom also stated that while the joint CLEC letter ordered the FCC to re-regulate Ethernet and thereby increase and enhance regulation over ILEC special access pricing, “”the current regulatory scheme has been in place for some time, and enterprise broadband services, in particular, were deregulated by a grant of forbearance almost a decade ago.”

A similar sentiment was echoed by Verizon in another filing last week regarding special access, US Telecom thereby claimed that there are other competitive options from cable and other competitors.

“Cable operators are growing their commercial services and have expanded to serve larger businesses,” US Telecom said. “CLECs and other competitive home phone service providers have become stronger through consolidation and continue to deploy networks, including last mile facilities to enterprise customer locations.”

Previously, the FCC used to conduct its collection of special access data but now it has to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the market.

“The FCC also set forth a detailed plan for using the data collection to gauge actual and potential competition before identifying a replacement regulatory framework for special access services,” US Telecom said. “Although the data do not reflect the most recent expansion into the enterprise broadband services marketplace by cable and other non-ILEC providers (and thus is already stale), there is no question that the data are relevant and thus must be analyzed and considered before any new regulations that disrupt the current regulatory scheme can be imposed. The FCC cannot step in and set prices without a fact-specific, full and fair analysis of the competitive landscape.”


AT&T Halts Fiber Rollout over New Net Neutrality Push


After the recent statements made by President Obama and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler regarding the possibility of reclassifying broadband providers under the Title II regulations of the Communications Act for utilities, AT&T has settled to pause its planned rollout of its new U-Verse GigaPower fiber service until the expected argument regarding the issue is settled once and for all. CEO Randall Stephenson said that it is not feasible to make the move investing the amount of money it would take to deploy fiber to 100 cities while being still unaware of the rules under which those investments will be governed. Therefore, it is wiser to simply pause and take time to develop the insights and understanding about how those rules will be implemented and what their impact would be.

Reacting to the statements made by Obama and Wheeler on the Net neutrality push, AT&T threatened legal action if any attempt was made at Title II classification for broadband providers along with other carriers. Although this latest move by AT&T seems logical in the turn of events, it also throws some light on the psychology of the major carrier. AT&T is indeed feeling threatened by the statements made by Obama and Wheeler regarding the new push because being reclassified as a utility would mean that the company would no longer enjoy the advantages it currently does as a broadband provider.

Without the advantages in infrastructure control and local monopoly power that AT&T has been benefiting from all these years, it would be forced to compete against local competitors and resellers, much like its namesake predecessor did when the Bell System was broken up during the 1980’s, which lead to competition and growth in the telephone sector that drove down prices for local and long-distance calling.