updated 02:07 pm EDT, Mon September 3, 2012
Universal equation considered to replace per-purchase rules
According to reports, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to order a review of the "spectrum screen" used to analyze whether a company has acquired too much wireless spectrum. The FCC uses the rules to decide whether or not to approve mergers and purchases. Deals that violate the spectrum screen are given closer analysis before approval.
The review is scheduled to take place before the FCC auctions off broadcaster airwaves to cellular carriers. The airwaves, freed by the shift to digital broadcasting, were put up for sale as part of a tax-cut extension bill passed earlier this year. The same bill 'encouraged' the FCC to evaluate its rules for spectrum purchases.
Every deal that passes through the FCC is given its own spectrum screen. While there are general guidelines, the rules for each transaction are unique. A single universal formula could provide "clarity and predictability" to the review process.
AT&T, typically critical of the FCC process, welcomed the news that the FCC would be evaluating the spectrum screen. An AT&T spokesman said "We appreciate this important step, which should eliminate protracted battles about these issues in individual license transfer proceedings." AT&T's criticized the FCC earlier this year for changing the spectrum screen in the middle of its failed bid to buy T-Mobile.