Bureau Affirms T-Mobile Leases and Dismisses Requests for Revision of Spectrum Screen

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The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) has denied Verizon’s petition for reconsideration of acceptance of T-Mobile’s Spectrum Manager Lease Arrangements with Channel 51 License Company LLC and LB License Co., LLC, finding them in the public interest. Verizon argued that the FCC should conduct a competitive analysis of T-Mobile’s proposed spectrum leasing arrangements to review the competitive harms, and if there are harms, reject the applications or, require spectrum divestiture. The Bureau rejected Verizon’s arguments finding that the leases will provide substantial public interest benefits. The Bureau also dismissed AT&T and T-Mobile’s requests to revise the FCC’s spectrum screen as outside the scope of the proceeding, but notes that the FCC has made a substantial amount of spectrum available for mobile wireless services since the adoption of the policies in 2014. The Bureau also states that the spectrum cap is not a hard cap on spectrum holdings but rather simply triggers further competitive analysis regarding the impact of a transaction on the competitive market for wireless services. Thus, the Bureau concluded that even though the leasing arrangements increase T-Mobile’s spectrum holdings above the screen, given current spectrum holdings of rival and potential service providers, it is unlikely that either will be foreclosed from expanding capacity or entering the market.

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