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FCC Wheeler sticks to his guns on auction date

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler isn’t budging when it comes to holding the broadcast incentive auction in early 2016. Any delay of the auction would be bad for consumers, competition, the broadcast industry, and the wireless business he said in a letter responding to Democrats Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.).

“Some have suggested that carriers that already have sufficient low-band spectrum may attempt to delay the auction in order to preserve their competitive advantage in holding almost all of this spectrum for as long as possible. We will strenuously oppose any such efforts,” Wheeler wrote in a letter dated March 11 but posted to the FCC web site on Friday.

GOP FCC commissioner Ajit Pai has suggested in the past that delaying the auction might be a good idea to give the big telcos (Verizon and AT&T) that spent billions in the recently-completed AWS-3 auction, might need more time to replenish their cash.

Others, including broadcasters looking to voluntarily sell some spectrum, and smaller carriers like T-Mobile, counter any delay would be a big mistake. “The next auction – for the same type of low-band spectrum that the government gifted to those Twin Bells all those years ago – can’t happen soon enough,” Legere wrote in a blog post last month.