FCC thinks AT&T's threat to boycott spectrum auction is a bluff

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he doesn’t believe AT&T will sit out of the agency’s highly anticipated airwaves auction next year. He pointed to AT&T’s past insistence that it needs more airwaves for its growing mobile business. “I have a hard time envisioning this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this kind of beach-front spectrum being something that people throw up their hands and walk away from,” he said Wednesday at meeting of the FCC.

AT&T’s recent threat to steer clear of a spectrum auction, scheduled for next year, isn’t scaring the FCC. FCC chief Tom Wheeler today dismissed AT&T’s poise, stating that he has a “hard time envisioning this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this kind of beach-front spectrum being something that people throw up their hands and walk away from.” Consider AT&T’s bluff called. The company is not happy that the auction will likely reserve some spectrum for smaller players in the industry, leaving it and Verizon to compete for a smaller slice of the airwaves than they want. It’s position was articulated thusly: “If the restrictions as proposed are adopted, AT&T will need to seriously consider whether its capital and resources are directed toward other spectrum opportunities that will better enable AT&T to continue to support high-quality LTE network deployments to serve its customers.”

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