Cable's $2.4 billion worth of mothballed wireless spectrum could be in jeopardy if skeptics win the argument that AT&T (NYSE: T) doesn't need to spend $49 billion to expand its spectrum holdings.
"Putting the two networks together does not create spectrum," Gerald R. Faulbhaber, a former chief economist at the FCC told Market Watch. James Taiciet, chief executive of American Tower, agreed, noting that AT&T could generate more spectrum by increasing the capacity loads of current towers.
If there is truly a need for more spectrum, the "correct way" to get it is "to change policy and release a huge amount of spectrum," said David Farber, a former FCC CTO, pointing first to spectrum held by TV and the federal government. Broadcasters, on the other hand, point at cable, which bought and holds spectrum licenses in jammed metro areas like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The cable operators have until 2021 to provide "substantial services" over that spectrum according to FCC rules.
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