Just months ago, T-Mobile became another unjustified casualty of the arbitrary and capricious Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It was bad enough that the FCC curiously opposed T-Mobile’s proposed merger with AT&T, which would have upgraded wireless service for tens of millions of American consumers and created thousands of new jobs. Compounding that injustice, however, the FCC committed the unprecedented transgression of releasing a confidential staff report that inaccurately maligned the proposed merger’s justifications.
Sadly, T-Mobile now seeks to employ that same FCC as a bureaucratic bludgeon to cripple a market competitor, by asking it to block a private spectrum purchase by Verizon Wireless. Whereas T-Mobile announced a few months ago that, “The U.S. wireless industry will remain fiercely competitive” by allowing acquisition of 50 MHz of T-Mobile’s spectrum as part of the AT&T deal, it now claims that Verizon’s proposed acquisition of 20 MHz of unused spectrum will somehow “unduly tip the scales” in Verizon’s favor. Moreover, T-Mobile itself seeks to acquire 20 MHz of spectrum, which it claims is in the public interest and “seeks only to assign spectrum licenses and no other assets.”
CFIF supported T-Mobile’s right to enter into a bargained-for exchange between private parties during its proposed merger with AT&T, which the FCC and Obama Justice Department improperly blocked. But by the same token, it should not turn around and attempt to interfere with other parties’ market transactions. T-Mobile is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom, the world’s fourth-largest telecommunications company, which itself is partly owned by the German government. So it’s not exactly David fighting Goliath, unable to contend in the marketplace without exploiting the FCC as some sort of protective big brother.
Verizon Wireless merely seeks to purchase unused spectrum, which will bring desperately-needed wireless service improvements for U.S. consumers. That’s none of T-Mobile’s business, and the FCC is not some sort of instrument to be used as a competitive weapon.