In a letter delivered on Friday, a coalition of 14 free market organizations, including the Center for Individual Freedom (”CFIF”), urged the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) to approve a private deal between Verizon and cable companies that will free currently unused spectrum to help alleviate the growing “spectrum crunch” that many wireless consumers – particularly those in densely populated areas of the country – are already feeling.
The letter, which was organized by ATR’s Digital Liberty, reads in part:
Demand for wireless broadband is more than doubling annually, but vast swaths of valuable spectrum – the lifeblood of mobile communications – remain unavailable to wireless carriers. Consumers in densely populated urban areas are already suffering from inadequate wireless capacity. While meeting this robust demand will require wireless carriers to adopt an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach, increasing spectrum availability is unquestionably the most fundamental and cost-effective means to meet wireless demand.
Unfortunately, spectrum auctions that will enable wireless carriers to bid on additional spectrum remain years away. Verizon Wireless’s proposed transfer presents a rare and crucial opportunity to deploy currently unused spectrum for wireless broadband. The spectrum at issue is ideally situated in the 1700/2100 MHz AWS bands, covering over 80 percent of the U.S. population (259 million POPs). Consumers will see substantial net benefits from expanded coverage enabled by additional spectrum, especially compared to more costly and time-consuming undertakings such as cell splitting.
With demand for wireless broadband more than doubling annually, the FCC’s own estimates predict that demand for wireless spectrum will exceed supply in 2013. Yet Obama’s FCC has done little if anything at all to make additional and much-needed spectrum available to wireless network operators.
In fact, under the Obama Administration the FCC has worked to delay and outright block private-sector deals to alleviate the growing spectrum crunch. Last year, the FCC took unprecedented steps to block the then-pending AT&T-T-Mobile merger, going so far as to publicly release a biased draft staff report in opposition to the merger that the commissioners themselves never approved and quite possibly didn’t even read. Had that merger been approved, AT&T was promising to deploy high-speed mobile broadband to 95 percent of all Americans. And the FCC has been over-scrutinizing and slow-walking approval of the Verizon-SpectrumCo deal since December.
Read the full coalition letter to the FCC here.