Free Press: AT&T-Qualcomm Public Spectrum Deal Not in Public Interest

FCC urged to deny deal or impose public interest conditions
Contact Info: 

Dave Saldana, 202-265-1490 x 32

WASHINGTON—Today at the Federal Communications Commission, Free Press, along with Public Knowledge, Consumers Union, Media Access Project and the Open Technology Initiative of the New America Foundation, filed a petition to deny the proposed sale of spectrum licenses from Qualcomm to AT&T.

  
According to the groups, the transfer does not serve the public interest, the primary criterion on which the Commission is supposed to approve or reject such proposals.  The groups urged the Commission to deny the sale, and instead to make the spectrum available for unlicensed use, or at a minimum, to place conditions on the sale that advance the public’s interest.

Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley made the following statement:

“Spectrum is a finite and valuable public resource. The FCC is charged with licensing it for private use only when it serves the public interest. In fact, the Communications Act does not allow the FCC to approve the sale of licenses unless the sale benefits the public. AT&T’s purchase of Qualcomm’s licenses does not benefit anyone but AT&T and Qualcomm. It gives an already dominant player more power to stifle competition and harm consumers.

“The most valuable and efficient use of the spectrum would be in unlicensed devices – not letting AT&T further dominate the wireless marketplace. The FCC should act to put this spectrum to its best use, beginning by granting our petition to deny.  It can then make that space available to entrepreneurs and innovators who can use it to develop new technical and economic opportunities.

“If the FCC nevertheless chooses to approve this transaction, it must balance the likely harms with strong public interest protections. The FCC must make sure that AT&T does not harm its subscribers by restricting their Internet communications, or leverage its power over backhaul, devices, services and customers to harm competitors.”

The Petition to Deny can be found here: http://www.freepress.net/files/AT&T_Qualcomm_petition_to_deny_03112011.pdf
 
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