AT&T (T) paid a premium in the FCC’s spectrum auction to avoid “open access” requirements mandated by the FCC, wireless boss Ralph de la Vega says. How much more? AT&T spent about 4x for each comparable slice of spectrum as Verizon did when it bought the “C” block spectrum, which came with “open access” strings attached. AP:
AT&T spent $6.64 billion for licenses in the 700-megahertz band auction but avoided licenses in the consumer-friendly “C block” because of the additional regulatory requirements, said Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of the wireless unit.
“The auction worked well … but it highlighted that people put a premium on spectrum that is not encumbered by heavy regulation,” said de la Vega in a conference call with analysts and reporters.
The “open access” requirements, which the FCC added to the “C block” after heavy lobbying from Google (GOOG), mean that Verizon Wireless — which won most of those airwaves — must allow consumers to connect any compatible device to their network and run any software they want.
In theory, this benefits consumers. It also benefits Google, which is looking to make money off mobile advertising and doesn’t want wireless operators to be able to block its software. The downside? We don’t know how much more the Feds could have raised for the “C block” if it didn’t have the requirements.
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