News Ticker

Don’t place bets on a bigger spectrum reserve for smaller carriers

The chances of the Federal Communications Commission voting to increase the amount of spectrum set aside in the incentive auction for bidding by smaller and rural wireless companies, are slim to none.

The report and order addressing the item originally scheduled for a vote Thursday was postponed, giving companies like T-Mobile and others renewed hope as well as more time to persuade the agency to increase the reserve from its current 30 MHz to 40 MHz.

While FCC chairman Tom Wheeler didn’t come right and say that there wouldn’t be a bigger reserve, he came mighty close in a press conference Thursday following the agency’s monthly meeting.

“There is a spectrum reserve,” Wheeler said referring to the current proposal. “There wasn’t a spectrum reserve previously. Some argue there should be none; some argue it should be bigger,” Wheeler said.

Both GOP commissioners said that had the item come up for a vote on Thursday, they would have voted to keep the reserve at 30 MHz, even though both would prefer no reserve at all.

“I want to make sure the agency doesn’t further extend the reserve,” commissioner Ajit Pai said.

In case you’re not counting, that’s three votes. Presuming the other two Democratic commissioners vote with the chairman as they usually do, it could be a unanimous vote when it comes up at the next meeting August 6.