In its Staff Memo against the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, the FCC repeatedly referenced its so-called “spectrum screen,” which the Commission uses to calculate local market concentration for wireless. But as John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports, changes to the screen have raised the eyebrows of two key members of the House:
In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), asked for info on how the FCC uses the screen in mergers.
The FCC formerly used a set cap to determine whether a merger would concentrate too much spectrum in one geographic area, the legislators pointed out in their letter. That cap was changed in 2003 to a spectrum screen that triggered a more “granular” review. But because that was not adopted in a formal rule, they argue it is uncertain how and why the FCC uses it.
Since the commission apparently changed that screen to reduce the amount of spectrum holding that raises red flags, also without adopting formal rules, and appeared to be treating it less like screen and more like a de facto lack of competition, they had lots of questions they needed answered.