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AT&T and Verizon are the boogeymen in new spectrum campaign

When it comes to winning a Washington policy fight, it’s always good to have a boogeyman, especially if you want consumers to flood regulators with comments supporting your side.  In the case of net neutrality, the boogeyman was Comcast and other reviled ISPs. For the Comcast bid t0 acquire Time Warner Cable, opponents didn’t have to work hard to hang the boogeyman mantle on both those firms.

Today, for the broadcast incentive auction, a coalition called Save Wireless Choice wants to make AT&T and Verizon the  hobgoblins of spectrum.  And to date, they’ve managed to get hundreds of consumers to go on record to get the FCC to set aside a bigger chunk of the low-band spectrum that will be auctioned in early 2016.

It’s not easy to make a wonky issue like the spectrum auction into a consumer issue, but it helps that the group can make great use of T-Mobile’s outspoken un-CEO John Legere, a master at social media who is as much brand ambassador as CEO. T-Mobile has been making trips to the FCC to plead its case (most recently last Friday), but in using Legere, Save Wireless Choice is trying to lure consumers to the cause.

In the video rant, Legere calls AT&T and Verizon “dumb and dumber” who treat consumers “like crack…..You lose choice, you lose competitive choice. This issue directly affects all of us. Make it known you demand more choice in wireless….Tweet or go to”

Verizon reacted to the coarse language Legere used, suggesting the CEO’s mouth should be rinsed out with soap. But what Verizon’s blog didn’t do, was to appeal to the consumers that Legere was trying to reach, making points that were better suited for regulators. He’s “simply wrong,” said Verizon’s blog post.

Joan Marsh, AT&T’s vice president of federal regulatory cautioned that Legere’s argument that a bigger reserve would help rural communities, was a “magenta herring.” “AT&T’s low-band portfolio is simply not sufficient to trigger the auction restrictions so our bidding in most rural areas will not be restricted, regardless of the size of the reserve,” Marsh wrote in a blog post.

Since Legere took to his vlog last Thursday, hundreds of form letters on #TwoFew letter head have landed at the FCC.