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CWA to FCC: Spectrum auction must be open, competitive

30 Oct, 2013

Washington, D.C. -- The Federal Communications Commission now is writing the rules for an auction of unused broadcast spectrum.

To meet the Commission’s goal of advancing high-speed mobile wireless communications, the auction must raise sufficient dollars to fund this effort, allocate $7 billion to fund a public safety network, and to make sure that spectrum is used efficiently for the American public.

In a letter to Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn and Commissioners, Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen said “an open and competitive auction in which every carrier and any other qualified bidder can participate equally on a level playing field” would best serve the public interest.

“T-Mobile and Sprint are now asking the FCC to establish different rules for different bidders, potentially slowing the spread of wireless and the investment and jobs that go with it.  Yet, past FCC experience demonstrates that  open auctions, in which bidders compete without restrictions, have generated the most revenue and assigned spectrum to the providers who will put it to work quickly and efficiently for the American public,” Cohen wrote.

An open competition process:

  • Provides for continued investment, innovation, and job creation in the wireless industry.
  • Efficiently allocates additional spectrum for consumer wireless to support the speedy deployment of    LTE networks and the continued expansion of other services.
  • Maximizes auction proceeds and provides full funding for the planned public safety network, FirstNet.

“The FCC should not favor one competitor over another,”he wrote, citing T-Mobile’s recent combination with MetroPCS, the spectrum it acquired from AT&T and Verizon Wireless, and the $3 billion cash penalty fee it received from AT&T as evidence of its strength in the market. Sprint received billions of new funds as part of the Softbank deal and, in combination with its affiliate Clearwire, controls more spectrum than any competitor, CWA noted, adding, “these companies are strong competitors.”

Cohen also expressed concern that FCC rules to limit participation by any bidder would jeopardize critical funding for FirstNet.  “A recent independent study by Georgetown University found that bidding restrictions on Verizon and AT&T could reduce auction revenues by as much as $12 billion and create a funding deficit for FirstNet.   That result would make it harder and more dangerous for first responders to do their job and would expose the American people to needless risk,” Cohen’s letter said.

An open and competitive auction, in which every bidder can compete for the spectrum it needs is the way to ensure the FCC’s goal of continued growth in U.S. wireless capabilities and jobs.

Read the full letter here.

FCC Letter re spectrum auction (Larry Cohen, CWA, Oct. 29, 2013)

CWA: FCC Spectrum Auction Must be Open and Competitive (CWA news release, Oct. 29, 2013)

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