Washington, D.C. – RWA respectfully disagrees with the Commission on its AT&T Waiver decision released today.
On March 29, 2018 the Commission requested comment on an AT&T waiver petition seeking to have the Commission retroactively revise the construction benchmarks for one of its Alaska 700 MHz licenses from a geographic coverage requirement to a population coverage requirement after it learned that its construction showing contained errors that prevented it from meeting the December 13, 2016 35% geographic coverage requirement. Rather than seeking an extension of the interim construction deadline, AT&T instead asked the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to allow it to meet its interim and final construction deadlines based on population coverage rather than geographic coverage.
RWA filed comments opposing AT&T’s request that the Commission use population benchmarks in lieu of geographic benchmarks to determine whether AT&T meets both its interim and final construction benchmarks for the license in question, noting that AT&T had made a business decision both to acquire the license and not to build it out as required by the Commission’s rules. RWA argued that it would have been more appropriate for the Bureau to grant AT&T a brief extension of time to meet its interim 35% geographic coverage benchmark and to require AT&T to continue to strive to meet its final 70% geographic coverage benchmark by the June 13, 2019 license expiration date as it has done with other carriers in similar situations.
Though the Commission granted the waiver, AT&T must negotiate in good faith with any third party seeking to acquire or lease spectrum in a geographic area of CMA 316 that it doesn’t serve. The Commission specified that “good faith negotiations” require reasonable market-based rates. If the Commission finds that AT&T failed to negotiate in good faith, its authorization will automatically terminate, without Commission action, for that relevant geographic area of the License subject to the negotiation, and that unserved area will become available for reassignment.