Federal officials plan to reserve up to a third of licenses sold in a TV airwaves auction next year for smaller wireless carriers under a plan floated recently by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Overall, the plan has something for most wireless carriers to both love and hate. While it allows all wireless carriers to bid for airwaves in an effort to drive up revenues from the sale, the plan also potentially sets aside licenses for smaller carriers. And it creates a new standard for how many licenses a wireless company can hold, which could make it easier for Verizon Wireless and AT&T to acquire more airwaves in the future, but hurt Sprint’s ability to do the same.
The proposal represents an effort by Wheeler’s aides to meet two broad, conflicting goals of the auction: Raise as much money as possible (by selling licenses to wireless giants AT&T and Verizon) while increasing competition in the wireless market (by selling licenses to smaller carriers who need more prime airwaves to compete for subscribers).