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Petition of Competitive Carriers Assoc. regarding AT&T transactions

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Released: December 19, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2042

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
)

Applications of AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC,
)
ULS File Nos. 0005286787, 0005337520,
Triad 700, LLC, CenturyTel Broadband Wireless,
)
0005262760, 0005295740, 0005295055,
LLC, 700 MHz, LLC, Cavalier Wireless, LLC,
)
0005296026, 0005304258, 0005293645, and
Ponderosa Telephone Co., David L. Miller,
)
0005323094
ComSouth Tellular, Inc., Farmers Telephone
)
Company, Inc., and McBride Spectrum Partners,
)
LLC for Consent to Assign Licenses )

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Adopted: December 19, 2012

Released: December 19, 2012
By the Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1. In this Order, we deny the petitions for consolidation and conditions filed by the Competitive
Carriers Association (CCA) regarding applications by AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC (“AT&T
Mobility”) to acquire various Lower 700 MHz and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS-1) licenses. As
discussed below, we decline CCA’s request to formally consolidate these applications for agency review,
and we decline CCA’s request that we impose conditions related to interoperability and roaming.

II.

BACKGROUND

2. On July 3, 2012, AT&T Mobility, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T Inc.
(“AT&T”), and Triad 700, LLC (“Triad”) filed an application pursuant to Section 310(d) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended,1 seeking to assign 27 Lower 700 MHz Band B Block licenses
from Triad to AT&T Mobility.2 On August 6, 2012, AT&T and CenturyTel Broadband Wireless, LLC
(“CenturyTel”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CenturyLink, Inc. (“CenturyLink”), requested that the
Commission consent to the assignment from CenturyTel to AT&T Mobility of 55 Lower 700 MHz Band
B and C Block licenses and six AWS-1 licenses.3
3. On August 15, 2012, CCA4 petitioned the Commission to consolidate AT&T’s proposed
acquisition from Triad of Lower 700 MHz spectrum with other pending applications in which AT&T is

1 47 U.S.C. § 310(d).
2 AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC and Triad 700 LLC Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of 27 Lower 700 MHz
Band B Block Licenses, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 8988 (WTB 2012).
3 AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC and CenturyTel Broadband Wireless LLC Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of
Lower 700 MHz Band and AWS-1 Licenses, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 11026 (WTB 2012).
4 CCA was formerly known as RCA – The Competitive Carriers Association (RCA). CCA filed as RCA in the
AT&T-Triad proceeding, but subsequently filed as CCA in the other proposed transactions that are noted above.

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2042

seeking to acquire spectrum licenses in the Lower 700 MHz B and C Blocks and the AWS-1 band.5 CCA
further requests that the Commission adopt conditions relating to interoperability in the Lower 700 MHz
band and data roaming.6 In addition, CCA requests that, prior to acting on the pending applications, the
Commission initiate a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to review its framework for evaluating mobile
spectrum holdings.7
4. In support of CCA’s request for consolidation, CCA states that these transactions – analyzed
in the aggregate – raise concerns regarding spectrum concentration, and argues that instead of analyzing
each application’s potential harm to competition, the Commission must take a “holistic look” at the
impact of ongoing spectrum concentration on competition and consumers.8 In addition, CCA states that
the Commission should impose two conditions. First, CCA contends that the Commission should impose
an interoperability requirement that CCA states would ensure seamless interoperability across the Lower
700 MHz band. Second, CCA states that the Commission should adopt a condition to ensure the
availability of data roaming on reasonable terms and conditions.9 CCA also reiterates its spectrum
aggregation concerns in its petition for conditions and consolidated treatment in the proposed transaction
where AT&T seeks to acquire spectrum from CenturyTel.10

5 CCA Petition for Conditions and Consolidated Treatment, ULS File No. 0005286787, at 3, 10-11 (Aug. 15, 2012)
(“CCA Triad Petition”). In the CCA Triad Petition, in addition to AT&T’s application involving Triad, CCA notes
other proposed transactions involving AT&T as the acquirer of spectrum licenses. Id. at 2 n. 3. See also AT&T
Mobility Spectrum LLC and 700 MHz, LLC Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of Two Lower 700 MHz Band C
Block Licenses, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 7656 (WTB 2012); AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC and Cavalier
Wireless, LLC Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of Ten Lower 700 MHz Band B Block Licenses and 41
Advanced Wireless Services License, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 8999 (WTB 2012); AT&T Mobility Spectrum
LLC and Ponderosa Telephone Co. Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of a Lower 700 MHz Band C Block
License, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 8970 (WTB 2012); AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC and David L. Miller Seek
FCC Consent to the Assignment of 13 Lower 700 MHz Band B Block Licenses, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 9002
(WTB 2012); AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC and ComSouth Tellular, Inc. Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of
Two Lower 700 MHz Band C Block Licenses, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 9005 (WTB 2012); AT&T Mobility
Spectrum LLC and Farmers Telephone Company, Inc. Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of a Lower 700 MHz
Band C Block License, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 9008 (WTB 2012); AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC and
McBride Spectrum Partners LLC Seek FCC Consent to the Assignment of a Lower 700 MHz Band B Block
License, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 9013 (WTB 2012);. CCA also petitioned the Commission to consolidate the
above applications with AT&T’s applications to acquire WCS and AWS-1 spectrum from Comcast Corporation,
Horizon Wi-Com, LLC, NextWave Wireless, Inc., and San Diego Gas & Electric. CCA Petition for Consolidated
Treatment, WT Docket No. 12-240, at 2-4 (Oct. 1, 2012). The Commission denied CCA’s request to consolidate the
above applications into WT Docket No. 12-240. Applications of AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC, New Cingular
Wireless PCS, LLC, Comcast Corporation, Horizon Wi-Com, LLC, NextWave Wireless, Inc., and San Diego Gas &
Electric Company for Consent to Assign and Transfer Licenses WT Docket No. 12-240, Memorandum Opinion and
Order
, FCC No. 12-156, ¶ 14 n. 95 (rel. Dec. 18, 2012).
6 CCA Triad Petition at 3-4, 6-7, 12-13.
7 Id. at 3, 8-10.
8 Id. at 7-8.
9 Id. at 12-13. See also CCA Reply, ULS File No. 0005286787, at 3-5, 8-9 (Sept. 4, 2012).
10 See generally CCA Petition for Conditions and Consolidated Treatment, ULS File No. 0005337520 (Sept. 25,
2012). See also CCA Reply, ULS File No. 0005337520 (Oct. 15, 2012).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2042

5. Applicants urge the Commission to reject CCA’s proposals to consolidate the proceeding and
impose conditions. In their Joint Opposition to the AT&T–Triad transaction, AT&T and Triad state that
each of the proceedings that CCA notes actually involves a different party, different spectrum, different
geographic areas, and different business terms. The Applicants also contend that each transaction is
independent and not contingent on the consummation of the other transactions.11 Further, the Applicants
argue that consolidation would harm the public interest by potentially delaying approval of a number of
transactions that no party disputes will result in significant benefits for consumers and competition.12
Regarding CCA’s request to impose the conditions described above, the Applicants state that both
conditions fail on the grounds that they are not transaction-specific. The Applicants contend that the
Commission has stated that it will not impose conditions to remedy pre-existing harms or harms that are
unrelated to the transactions.13 In the Joint Opposition regarding the AT&T-CenturyTel transaction,
AT&T and CenturyTel provide similar arguments regarding consolidation and the imposition of
conditions.14

III.

DISCUSSION

6. As an initial matter, we note that, subsequent to the filing of CCA’s petitions, the
Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to review its policies governing mobile spectrum
holdings to ensure that they fulfill the Commission’s statutory objectives given changes in technology,
spectrum availability, and the marketplace.15 Therefore, CCA’s request that the Commission initiate a
rulemaking regarding its concerns about the broad implications of spectrum aggregation has already been
addressed by the Commission.
7. Regarding CCA’s request for formal consolidation of the above applications, we note that the
Commission is given broad discretion as to how to conduct its proceedings.16 Our review process
generally accounts for the effects of multiple pending applications,17 and we have carefully applied that
process here. CCA has not persuaded us that there would be a benefit to formally consolidating the above
applications with each other. We therefore deny the CCA Petition.
8. Turning to CCA’s request for interoperability and data roaming conditions, we note that
while CCA states generally that spectrum concentration resulting from the above applications warrants
conditions on interoperability and data roaming, it does not provide any details regarding why such
conditions would be needed in the instant transactions and how such conditions should be structured. We
find that any issues of interoperability in the Lower 700 MHz band raised by CCA are not transaction-

11 Joint Opposition to Petition for Conditions and Consolidated Treatment, ULS File No. 0005286787, at 12-14
(Aug. 27, 2012) (“Triad Joint Opposition”).
12 Id. at 14-15.
13 Id. at 15.
14 See generally Joint Opposition and Motion to Dismiss, ULS File No. 0005337520 (Oct. 5, 2012).
15 See Policies Regarding Mobile Spectrum Holdings, WT Docket No. 12-269, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27
FCC Rcd 11710 (2012).
16 See Section 4(j) of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 154(j). See also Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass'n v. State
Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983); Telecommunications Resellers Ass’n v. FCC, 141 F.3d 1193,
1196 (D.C. Cir. 1998); GTE Service Corp. v. FCC, 782 F.2d 263, 273-74 (D.C. Cir. 1986).
17 See, e.g., Application of AT&T Inc. and Qualcomm Incorporated for Consent to Assign Licenses and
Authorizations, WT Docket No. 11-18, Order, 26 FCC Rcd 17589, 17622 ¶ 80 (2011).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2042

related. Further, the Commission has already initiated a rulemaking proceeding earlier this year to
address these issues on an industry-wide basis.18
9. We also do not find any potential roaming-related harm that might arise out of the instant
transactions. We note that facilities-based providers of commercial mobile data services, including
AT&T, are subject to the Commission’s data roaming rule that requires them to offer data roaming
arrangements to other such providers on commercially reasonable terms and conditions, subject to certain
limitations.19

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

10. IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and 309 of the Communications Act of 1934,
as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 309, the staff of the Mobility Division of the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau SHALL PROCESS the following applications consistent with this Order
and the Commission’s rules: 0005286787, 0005337520, 0005262760, 0005295740, 0005295055,
0005296026, 0005304258, 0005293645, and 0005323094.
11. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and (j), 309, and 310(d) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), (j), 309, and 310(d), the petitions for
conditions and consolidated treatment filed by the Competitive Carriers Association are DENIED for the
reasons stated herein.
12. This action is taken under delegated authority pursuant to sections 0.131 and 0.331 of the
Commission’s Rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.131, 0.331.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Ruth Milkman
Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

18 See generally Promoting Interoperability in the 700 MHz Commercial Spectrum, WT Docket No. 12-69, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking
, 27 FCC Rcd 3521 (2012).
19 See 47 C.F.R. § 20.12(e)(1); see also Reexamination of Roaming Obligations of Commercial Mobile Radio
Service Providers and Other Providers of Mobile Data Services, WT Docket No. 05-265, Second Report and Order,
26 FCC Rcd 5411, 5432-33 ¶¶ 42-43 (2011), affirmed, Cellco P’ship d/b/a Verizon v. FCC, Nos. 11-1135 & 11-
1136 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 4, 2012).

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