Here’s the problem: Auctions haven’t done much to expand access in the rural areas Republicans claim to love.
They have, however, enriched the big businesses who generally love Republicans. Spectrum auctions are nearly always won by the behemoths AT&T and Verizon, which build out infrastructure in more urban areas and leave less-populated areas alone, in the kind of classic market failure that Republicans find so difficult to recognize. That’s why the Rural Telecom Group, a consortium of smaller wireless carriers, thinks the big boys should be forced to give up the chunks of spectrum they aren’t using.
“Were very opposed to auctions[the way theyre currently structured], because we know it goes to the highest bidders, not the people who live and work in rural areas and would actually serve them,” says Carri Bennet, the groups general counsel. “Basically, it forces a rural consumer to have two phones. One to use in rural America, and one to use outside.”