Washington, D.C., December 21, 2016 – The following statement may be attributed to Carri Bennet, the Rural Wireless Association’s (RWA) General Counsel:
RWA is extremely disappointed, and frankly baffled, by the Commission’s decision to reward Bresnan Communications, LLC for ignoring its buildout obligations by allowing the purchaser of its licenses in Montana and Wyoming – T-Mobile – additional time to buildout Bresnan’s 700 MHz licenses and thereby allowing Bresnan to profit from the eleventh hour sale of those licenses to T-Mobile. Bresnan apparently sat on the licenses for eight years. The waiver grant issued today by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau completely ignores the fact that Bresnan made no effort to buildout its licenses.
In completely ignoring the purpose of the Acceleration Rule, the Bureau has established dangerous and harmful precedent for those living in rural areas by effectively negating the 700 MHz construction requirements and allowing speculators to obtain FCC licenses for the sole purpose of warehousing them until they are able to profit from a sale to an entity like T-Mobile that will then be given additional time to actually buildout the license. RWA lobbied hard 10 years ago to persuade the Commission to adopt stringent 700 MHz geographic construction build out requirements that would prevent spectrum warehousing. Today’s decision has effectively gutted those requirements.
T-Mobile has held other spectrum in rural Montana and Wyoming for over 10 years and has not built out to the degree it claims it will now do in its waiver request. Two years’ time will tell whether T-Mobile can meet its heroic attempt to cover 70 % of the geography. RWA will continue to press the FCC to hold T-Mobile to its commitments and will seek the penalties established in the Order when it fails to do so.