RTG responded to the Joint Opposition of AT&T and Qualcomm to Petitions to Deny or to Condition Consent and Reply to Comments filed by AT&T and Qualcomm. RTG opposes the sale of Qualcomm’s lower 700 MHz band licenses to AT&T arguing that AT&T and Qualcomm fail to adequately refute the adverse impact on competition and the public interest that would result from AT&T acquiring Qualcomm’s spectrum assets or the need for the conditions proposed by RTG.
The limited public interest benefits of the transaction are strongly outweighed by the many public interest harms that will result from allowing AT&T to exert its substantially increased market power, including its ability to use such power to prevent small and rural carriers from being able to realistically compete with AT&T through the denial of data roaming and locking up through exclusivity agreements of the handset models most desired by consumers.
This further increase of AT&T’s growing duopoly power harms competition and ultimately those consumers who work and travel through rural areas. The FCC must investigate these competitive harms.
Should the FCC decline to protect the public, it should impose the following conditions
- require all mobile wireless devices to be interoperable across the entire 700 MHz band
- require AT&T to offer data roaming on reasonable rates, terms and conditions
- prohibit all handset exclusivity agreements
- require AT&T to comply with stringent performance requirements for its 700 MHz spectrum
- require that public safety be given priority access and the ability to roam.
Additionally, the FCC should require AT&T to divest any acquired spectrum in excess of 50 megahertz below 1 GHz in all 515 counties in which it will exceed 50 MHz. These conditions are directly applicable to AT&T and, without such conditions, the competitive harms noted above cannot be prevented.