Congress and Spectrum Auctions

In a post on AT&T’s Public Policy Blog, the company’s Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, Jim Ciconni, argues that Congress and not the FCC should have power over spectrum auctions:

The entire principle behind spectrum auctions is to allow free and competitive markets to work, thus ensuring that valuable spectrum goes to the most economically viable uses. This also provides maximum return to the U.S. Treasury.  For the FCC to assert, in the name of ‘fostering competition’, that it should have final say on which companies can bid on spectrum is for them to engage in picking winners and losers. That is not the job of the FCC. When consumers are able to make decisions in a free and competitive market—and wireless is clearly that—the FCC should not be allowed to impose its own will if it doesn’t like the choices those consumers make

The FCC should be a neutral arbiter, ensuring fairness and impartially enforcing a system of rules and laws. It should not be empowered by Congress to advantage some companies and disadvantage others, or to impose its preferences on a free market. We commend the Congress for advancing spectrum legislation in a way that helps the economy, maximizes revenue for the Treasury, and ensures that consumers—not regulators—decide who wins and loses in the competitive wireless market. It would be a disservice to the Nation if the FCC is so adamant about preserving and enhancing its own power that it would risk killing this crucial legislation.

The need for more spectrum was a major driving force behind AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile.