Technology seems to be evolving more rapidly than the law, with regulators scrambling to draft rules only after a dispute or question arises. Lawmakers and courts encounter new issues that didn’t exist decades ago … for example, whether social media evidence is admissible in a court case.
When technology grows to the point that it triggers regulatory concerns, the Federal Communications Commission is bound to respond. Recently, the FCC tackled questions about broadband Internet, when it issued the Open Internet order. Now, the FCC is being asked to re-evaluate how cell phone carriers purchase “spectrum” – the frequency that provides service. The results could have a big impact on end users in 2016.
The Spectrum Shortage
In 2012, the federal government acknowledged a spectrum shortage – that is, too few available airwaves for TV broadcasters, cell phone providers and government agencies. Those three types of entities operate on the same spectrum frequency, and as consumer data usage increases, cell phone providers want more spectrum so they can keep up with customers’ service expectations. As such, the FCC allows TV stations to sell their unused portion of spectrum back to the government, and in turn, the FCC sells it at auction. But critics say the auction favors large service providers because they are able to out-bid smaller competitors.
The Competitive Carriers Association, an organization composed of small wireless providers serving rural areas, says Verizon and AT&T control 73 percent of all low-band spectrum. Low-band spectrum is the type of frequency that allows for service in rural areas, and it is superior to high-band spectrum for penetrating structures, such as office buildings. The CCA calls for caps on the amount of spectrum a company cay buy, saying that the current auction system could allow for AT&T and Verizon to horde excess spectrum, essentially ensuring smaller, rural providers cannot compete with them.
T-Mobile had petitioned the FCC to set aside low-band spectrum and allow small carriers to bid on that, independently of AT&T and Verizon. In June, the FCC announced it doesn’t plan to do that for its 2016 spectrum auction. The FCC was, however, expected to announce after its July 2015 meeting a rule that would restrict large companies from getting government discounts that are intended to help small businesses at auction.
The Need for Competition
Competition drives innovation in business. Without it, there might be little incentive for companies to continue creating new or updated products. Lifeline Data Center was built with this principle in mind. We think you should be able to choose your telecommunication provider, and be able to switch services if you choose.
Come see what other options we offer. Schedule a tour today.