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FCC Announces Winning Bidders in 3.5 GHz Band, Utility Pole Regulation, Cable Monopolization Problem

Jericho Casper



Photo of WISPA vice president of policy Louis Peraertz

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday detailed the results of Auction 105, the recently concluded auction of 70 megahertz of priority access licenses in the 3550-3650 MegaHertz (MHz) band.

The auction made available the greatest number of spectrum licenses ever in a single FCC auction, according to the FCC.

Auction 105 gross proceeds reached $4,585,663,345. A total of 228 bidders won 20,625 of 22,631 licenses, more than 91.1 percent of the available licenses.

The bidder with the largest total winning bid amounts was Verizon Wireless, with $1,893,791,991 spent on bids. Verizon was closely trailed by Wetterhorn Wireless, which bid $912,939,410 on licenses. Wetterhorn won the most total priority access licenses, winning 5,492.

Louis Peraertz, vice president of policy for the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association congratulated WISPA members who won licenses, many of whom participated in spectrum auctions for the first time.

“Bidding activity was fierce, especially so in localities outside of major metro areas,” said Peraertz, “This proves smaller bidding licensing actually bring more money to the U.S. Treasury, as well as more diverse bidders to the plate, ultimately helping American broadband consumers get the services they demand and need.”

Free State Foundation calls for the FCC to remove barriers to pole replacements to accelerate broadband deployment

The Free State Foundation filed comments (PDF) to the FCC on Tuesday in response to the Commission's request for public comments on a petition filed by the Internet and Television Association, which sought an expedited declaratory ruling regarding pole replacements and pole attachments.

The market-oriented non-profit urged the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling that prohibits utility pole owners in unserved areas from requiring broadband providers to bear the entire costs of new replacement poles.

“Utility company pole owners receive benefits from erection of new poles, and they should share in the cost of replacements,” the group wrote in their comments.

The foundation believes that clarifying issues surrounding pole attachments will promote the rapid deployment of broadband, as issues surrounding pole replacement and attachments are often complex, tedious, and not given much attention.

Yet, Free State Foundation maintains “in the drive to expand broadband deployment to unserved, mainly rural areas, pole regulations are increasingly important and quickly resolving them in a pro-deployment, pro-consumer way can make a real difference.”

Cable broadband monopolies close in on 70 percent broadband market share

The United States' communications industry's monopolization problem shows no sign of slowing down, according to author Karl Bode.

Bode cited the latest data from Leichtman Research in a recent Techdirt article, which reveals the cable industry is nearing a 70 percent market share over fixed broadband.

With the COVID-19 pandemic making it clear that broadband is an essential utility, users are flocking to cable connections to remain connected to their jobs, education, and friends.

While this is great news for cable giants, it is not so great for consumers, smaller competitors, or the health of the internet, wrote Bode.

“Less competition, combined with a Trump FCC that couldn't care less about the sector's competition problems, means they can get away with charging higher rates than ever for a service that comes with some of the worst customer service ratings of any industry in America,” he said.

For cable monopolies, limited competition grants them the ability to raise flat-rate prices, charge additional fees, and add usage caps.

Bode believes there is currently less incentive than ever for cable companies to do better.

“What exactly exists to curtail these companies' worst impulses or motivate them to do better? They face no competition, and U.S. regulators and lawmakers are potentially the most captured they've been at any point in the last 50 years,” argues Bode.


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