AT&T wants a bigger piece of the spectrum pie. However, T-Mobile will make sure that America's big blue will get no more than its fair share.
The nation's second largest carrier is eyeing three lower 700MHz C Block licenses in the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Naturally, T-Mobile, the country's third largest carrier, is up in arms about it.
Signals from the low frequency spectrum travel farther and can even better penetrate buildings, too. This spectrum is especially ideal for serving communities in rural areas that are farther away from city centers. As a result, this band of signals has become quite the hot ticket item as of late.
In fact, despite its defensive moves against AT&T, T-Mobile also bought up a chunk of 700 MHz spectrum from Verizon back in 2014. Verizon, the nation's largest carrier, wasn't using it anymore, so T-Mobile gobbled it up and turned it into its Extended Range LTE service.
AT&T, in its defense, says it will use the 700 MHz band to increase its service capacity, enhance existing services, launch new products and services in those three states. The current owner, the East Kentucky Network, is selling the band for an undisclosed amount.
Nonetheless, in a letter filed by T-Mobile to the FCC to block AT&T's purchase of that portion of the frequency spectrum, the network argues that allowing such a sale to push through would in fact violate the FCC's own rules.
The FCC adopted a set of rules in 2014 dictating that no deals resulting in a single carrier gaining control of one-third of a spectrum below 1 GHz in any market could push through without first an "enhanced review" conducted by the government agency itself.
T-Mobile points out that AT&T already controls 60 percent of the market in the three states the big blue carrier is looking to acquire even more spectrum. Therefore, such a sale, according to T-Mobile, would exclude other companies from coming in to offer competitive products and services.
So if AT&T gets blocked from purchasing the spectrum, who'll take over it? T-Mobile, of course. It says so in its letter to the FCC.
"T-Mobile stands ready to acquire the spectrum in these markets at market-based, non-foreclosure prices, and if allowed to do so, will deploy the spectrum quickly for the benefit of consumers," the company says.