T-Mobile, CTIA urge FCC to ignore NAB's plea to up funding, alter timeline for channel repack


T-Mobile and CTIA are imploring the FCC to dismiss the National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB) petition for reconsideration of the $1.75 billion funding and 39-month timeline for the incentive auction channel repack.

Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of media relations for the NAB, said the timeline and budget conditions placed on the repacking process for TV broadcasters moving their signals to new channels following the auctions is “ambitious to say the least.”

“Right now as written, if we’re not done in 39 months, any TV station which has not made the transition has to turn in its license and go out of business. I think that’s just absurd in terms of the impact on consumers,” Wharton told FierceBroadcasting.

The NAB is hoping the FCC will be flexible in regards to the timing and funding limits placed on the process.

RELATED: It’s ‘absurd’ broadcasters could be forced off air by channel repack, NAB says

But operators like T-Mobile are balking at NAB’s request. Technically, T-Mobile said that NAB’s petition came along too late to be considered by the FCC, and the carrier assures that the FCC has already dedicated careful and sufficient consideration to the post-auction transition plan.

On a more personal note, T-Mobile said that the new services and investments that will stem from auction winners deploying the newly available 600 MHz spectrum will be vital to the country.

“More broadly, the infusion of wireless broadband investment into the nation’s economy from T-Mobile and other 600 MHz auction winners not only promises faster wireless broadband performance and improved coverage, but also new opportunities for economic growth and job creation,” wrote T-Mobile in a filing (PDF).

Specifically, T-Mobile said it plans to use the 600 MHz spectrum it won at auction to deploy advanced LTE services this year. This morning, T-Mobile also publicly announced its intention to offer nationwide 5G wireless service on the 600 MHz spectrum by 2020.

CTIA also jumped into the argument (PDF) to refute NAB’s assertion that wireless carriers didn’t want the 600 MHz spectrum, saying it is “squarely contradicted by the fact that the auction generated the second most revenue ever for any Commission-held auction.”

After several initial delays, the FCC’s broadcast incentive spectrum auctions finally wrapped up earlier this year, with bidders committing to spend $19.63 billion on the available spectrum. Winners include T-Mobile, Dish Network and Comcast, while major wireless providers like Verizon didn’t buy any of the spectrum.