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Thread: Spectrum squatting

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    Spectrum squatting

    We all know that T-Mobile could use more spectrum to make its service better, both in urban areas as well as in smaller cities and towns and across the rural landscape, in order for them to have a fully "nationwide" service offering. And we all know that a lot of very good, valuable spectrum is being held by "squatters", some owned by the carriers themselves, under various names, Frontier and King Street come easily to mind.

    So knowing these facts, a few questions come to mind: Is there ever going to be an absolute deadline when the squatters have to give back that valuable resource? What are the regulations regarding this? I know that in some cases US Cellular's spectrum-squatting division has slapped a couple of antennas on a tower and called it a "fixed wireless" service, but in reality nothing is running and they don't answer calls or emails regarding that supposed service.

    So is the fact they have those antennas on a tower but not doing anything enough so that they can avoid having to actually USE that spectrum for anything at all? There should be hard and fast rules for this. The upcoming 600 MHz auction does have some good rules regarding percentages of population and land area coverage, but are there also solid dates of "use it or lose it" also in the auction rules?

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    First, I don't really like the term "squatter" in this context, as it implies that the occupiers have no legal right. I use the term "speculator" because they did in fact pay for the licenses and have been (mostly) following the letter of the law. Some (e.g. King Street) have gone to some lengths to assure that they will continue to follow the letter of the law for some time into the future. The only argument that could be made in the case of a speculator who sets up a "protection" network, is that they are not offering the required "substantive" service. So, I don't know if there will be an "absolute" deadline. At the time the licenses come up for renewal, I'd look for an adversarial process during which T-Mobile could argue that the current licensees are not serving the "Public Interest" by not offering "substantive" service. The FCC would then have to decide to renew the licenses or put them in the pool for reissue. Remember that T-Mobile could have bid on the 700 MHz auction but, at the time, they were not looking past their hopes of being bought out.
    Donald Newcomb

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    Just like back in the old days of domain names, before commercial interest took over completely, the whole concept of paying and reserving the resource without putting it to use was supposed to be prevented effectively by the regulators looking out for the public interest. I think the term squatters is fair enough

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    King Street Wireless and U.S. Cellular definitely aren't "squatting" on their Band 12 up here in NorCal, it's being used for actual service. USCC covers Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, Siskiyou, Modoc, Lassen and Plumas Counties in NorCal.

    That said, there are two counties here in NorCal where King Street Wireless owns the 700, but where USCC doesn't provide service in, Shasta and Tehama, two counties where T-Mobile still has no 700 in. Maybe King Street Wireless should sell it to T-Mobile, it'd help fill in those two counties with Band 12.

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    I think the example of King Street is poor, although why USCC itself doesn't just own it is stupid. At least the 700A on the whole owned by King is being used or will be used.

    I think your Cavalier, AB spectrum, etc. should be heavily targeted types in the future. The build out requirements need to be sooner and more frequent and require both geography and pops covered. Say, 2-3 years to start deployment and be at like 20% requirements, and go up like 20% every year. We need strict guidelines.

    Given that the carriers say they need more spectrum (and in many cases do) call them on this. If they need it so bad, they'll build out quickly with it and keep the networks up. I mean, take a look at the oldest licenses used, the CLR. I don't see ATT and VZW giving their deathgrips up on them any time soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    First, I don't really like the term "squatter" in this context, as it implies that the occupiers have no legal right. I use the term "speculator" because they did in fact pay for the licenses and have been (mostly) following the letter of the law. Some (e.g. King Street) have gone to some lengths to assure that they will continue to follow the letter of the law for some time into the future. The only argument that could be made in the case of a speculator who sets up a "protection" network, is that they are not offering the required "substantive" service. So, I don't know if there will be an "absolute" deadline. At the time the licenses come up for renewal, I'd look for an adversarial process during which T-Mobile could argue that the current licensees are not serving the "Public Interest" by not offering "substantive" service. The FCC would then have to decide to renew the licenses or put them in the pool for reissue. Remember that T-Mobile could have bid on the 700 MHz auction but, at the time, they were not looking past their hopes of being bought out.
    Please the term "squatter" is 100% accurate even if they are also " financial speculator". These airwaves were made avail for the Pubic Interest where they the FCC even set build out time lines to completely deploy and roll out of this spectrum or lose the spectrum licenses. These speculators are squatting on these spectrum and preventing them from being used for the Public Interest they were intended to help.

    King Street isn't a Spectrum Squatters since they have leased their spectrum to USCC that is deployed where they also own the majority controlling interests in USCC via Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. USCC is just a shell company where the major investor Telephone and Data Systems, Inc own about 84% of USCC plus that are also the private owners of King Street keeps most valuable assets for USCC. This way USCC can go bankrupt and go private like XOXO Communication did the few non-TDS stock holders won't have much to chance of recovering their money. I lost $10K on XOXO Communication that when private and got nothing back since all fiber assets were owned by the majority private corporation that took XOXO from public to private.

    After the 600Mhz auction when the FCC doesn't have any more suitable spectrum to auction and profit from, then and only then will the FCC decide to take back the spectrum from the Spectrum squatters for failing to deploy the spectrum.

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    This is what happens when you allow the private sector and hedge funds to self-regulate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shilohcane View Post
    .... USCC is just a shell company where the major investor Telephone and Data Systems, Inc own about 84% of USCC plus that are also the private owners of King Street keeps most valuable assets for USCC..... .
    I picked several USCC licenses at random; checked on the FCC database, where I learned that some of them were owned by a USCC 100% subsidiary called USC Investments Company (or something like that). I have not yet found proof of the oft' mentioned shibboleth about USCC being "just a shell company". Although, I'm sure they could become one fairly quickly.

    I think that my point is that there are rules and a process. The rules for 700 MHz are tighter than they were for the PCS auction, which only required that a certain percent of POPs be covered and didn't really (as I understand it) define "covered", so that one company drove around with a couple C.O.W.s setting up temporary sites to create "coverage". With 700 MHz the licensees are required to provide "substantive service". If the FCC finds that they have failed to do this, the the licenses can be expired with no refund and reissued to new licensees.

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    The main squatters left are 1. Cavalier 2. C700 for 700mhz a block that is just there to make money. And then the biggest all around Dish network which I hope joins in as the 5th wireless carrier. The future of the wireless world in the usa calls for a 5th major carrier weather it be dish or someone like Comcast, altic, free, Vodafone, orange, three or someone buying dish and building the spectrum out and entering. The what if is what if dish was to buy commnet, us cellular, cspire, and inland cellular all have a decent amount of 3G cdma and 4g lte coverage it would be a start and would give dish costumers to build around and build up and all ready built networks That can be a start for a major expansion plan to extend coverage a lot. and dish would have money flowing in from current costumer's from buying them 4 small and medium size carriers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolguy88 View Post
    The main squatters left are 1. Cavalier 2. C700 for 700mhz a block that is just there to make money. And then the biggest all around Dish network which I hope joins in as the 5th wireless carrier. The future of the wireless world in the usa calls for a 5th major carrier weather it be dish or someone like Comcast, altic, free, Vodafone, orange, three or someone buying dish and building the spectrum out and entering. The what if is what if dish was to buy commnet, us cellular, cspire, and inland cellular all have a decent amount of 3G cdma and 4g lte coverage it would be a start and would give dish costumers to build around and build up and all ready built networks That can be a start for a major expansion plan to extend coverage a lot. and dish would have money flowing in from current costumer's from buying them 4 small and medium size carriers.
    At this point I'm pretty sure Dish is just playing a very expensive game of chicken. They've had years to figure out something and haven't been able to get into the market: I don't think they want to try to build a national carrier from (or almost from) scratch and they're just hoping now to be able to sell out to established players or a new entrant (cable companies potentially).

    I hope I'm wrong, but they had plans to buy Clear, then plans to buy Sprint, then plans to buy T-Mobile and they all fell through. Then the FCC shut them down on the small business credits for AWS-3. They're on a very short schedule for some of the spectrum they hold and I don't think they have enough time to deploy it now. All in all, things don't seem to be going according to plan for Charlie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CavanalClimber View Post
    I know that in some cases US Cellular's spectrum-squatting division has slapped a couple of antennas on a tower and called it a "fixed wireless" service, but in reality nothing is running and they don't answer calls or emails regarding that supposed service.
    Your statement raises serious questions about the extent of how this company is run considering that this company is required to file a report with the FCC detailing how and where the spectrum licenses are being used to meet requirements. The very fact that the FCC has been lied to and exposed by your fact finding raises questions of perjury by management of King Street. Then there's a question whether documents submitted to the SEC and IRS are compromised in order to cover up the falsified reports given to the FCC. I believe the licenses can be seized and and "build out" or "bidding" credit returned, likely with interest, plus charges of perjury once the FCC finds out that this company merely "slapped a couple of antennas on a tower and called it a "fixed wireless" service".

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    Quote Originally Posted by RiskyBidThis View Post
    I hope I'm wrong, but they had plans to buy Clear, then plans to buy Sprint, then plans to buy T-Mobile and they all fell through. Then the FCC shut them down on the small business credits for AWS-3. They're on a very short schedule for some of the spectrum they hold and I don't think they have enough time to deploy it now. All in all, things don't seem to be going according to plan for Charlie.
    As this recent article pointed out, Verizon should run out of spectrum soon so they would be a likely candidate to lease the Dish spectrum:

    http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/...ves/2015-10-21

    Obviously the clock is ticking much faster on the AWS-4 spectrum and the Block H then it is on the recently auctioned AWS-3.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    Some (e.g. King Street) have gone to some lengths to assure that they will continue to follow the letter of the law for some time into the future.
    They will have to meet the last and final construction deadline of Dec 30, 2019 in its entirety, unless they can justify and completely explain why they haven't complied with the last deadline.

    The only argument that could be made in the case of a speculator who sets up a "protection" network, is that they are not offering the required "substantive" service.
    Construction of "protection/stop-gap" networks would likely be considered one of the "economically irrational behavior" that USCC was referring to, as their construction expends CAPEX/OPEX which would otherwise be used for other profit making activities and with the very high possibility of capital and scarce resources diverted to systems which may have marginal competitive or economic value. Furthermore, the FCC realizes that these systems have little or no value for the Public Interest, hence the reason they have been accommodating in extending the 1st buildout deadline to 24 months on the 700 MHz band.

    The accommodations granted by the FCC prevent "protection/stop-gap" networks from being deployed due their marginal competitive or economic value and/or doesn't reach the goals of the Commission for high speed wireless networks in rural areas.

    At the time the licenses come up for renewal, I'd look for an adversarial process during which T-Mobile could argue that the current licensees are not serving the "Public Interest" by not offering "substantive" service. The FCC would then have to decide to renew the licenses or put them in the pool for reissue.
    It would be hard to say what happens until Dec 30, 2019 when the 2nd buildout/expiration deadline passes.
    If King Street fails the benchmark completely or fails to justify and completely explain why it fell short of the requirements by filling out "Request for Extension of Time (FCC Form 601, Main Form and Schedule L)" then they risk forfeiture the license in question without any refunds.

    T-Mobile doesn't need to do anything since the ULS will automatically cancel the license at the 2nd buildout/expiration deadline anyways so all they have to do is have somebody sit in front of the computer. You don't need a bunch of corporate lawyers drooling in front of a computer when an intern can look it up.
    Last edited by i0wnj00; 11-02-2015 at 09:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jet1000 View Post
    As this recent article pointed out, Verizon should run out of spectrum soon so they would be a likely candidate to lease the Dish spectrum:

    http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/...ves/2015-10-21

    Obviously the clock is ticking much faster on the AWS-4 spectrum and the Block H then it is on the recently auctioned AWS-3.
    It's ticking fastest on AWS-4 and that's a very big chunk of leverage they stand to lose out on. The first build-out deadline is in March 2017 and the second one is moved up a year if they miss that. Dish is helped by it being based on population instead of geographic coverage, but even still I wouldn't want to be them if they miss the first deadline.
    Last edited by RiskyBidThis; 11-02-2015 at 09:28 PM. Reason: Double-checked

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    Quote Originally Posted by RiskyBidThis View Post
    At this point I'm pretty sure Dish is just playing a very expensive game of chicken. They've had years to figure out something and haven't been able to get into the market: I don't think they want to try to build a national carrier from (or almost from) scratch and they're just hoping now to be able to sell out to established players or a new entrant (cable companies potentially).

    I hope I'm wrong, but they had plans to buy Clear, then plans to buy Sprint, then plans to buy T-Mobile and they all fell through. Then the FCC shut them down on the small business credits for AWS-3. They're on a very short schedule for some of the spectrum they hold and I don't think they have enough time to deploy it now. All in all, things don't seem to be going according to plan for Charlie.
    Truly what I think the fcc should do if dish fails on aws4 is take the pcs and aws3 back also split it up and give cspire, us cellular 20x20 nationwide and instead of having the low band auction giving both of them and sprint 5x5 nationwide 600mhz and give tmobile 10x10. But this won't happen.

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