MetroPCS is again asking the FCC to force AT&T to divest spectrum if its mega-merger with T-Mobile USA goes through.
The operator is one of the few regional wireless providers who haven’t asked for an outright ban of the deal.
“This merger will upset the competitive equilibrium and divide the industry starkly into spectrum “haves” and “have-nots” when it comes to providing these services,” MetroPCS said in a document filed late Friday with the FCC. “Thus, the only realistic option to ensure that the MSR Carriers have access to spectrum is for the Commission to require AT&T/T-Mobile to divest it.”
MetroPCS would stand to benefit if the FCC required AT&T and T-Mobile to sell off spectrum to competitors through a public auction. The prepaid operator has struggled to address a bandwidth shortage that has curtailed the speeds of its LTE network, and has so far been unable to secure spectrum on the private market.
The company renewed its call for conditions on the merger in response to an ex parte document filed by AT&T and Deutsche Telekom last month that cited several smaller operators such as Leap and U.S. Cellular as competitors to AT&T.
MetroPCS conceded that regional operators like itself serve as AT&T’s competitors under current market conditions, but said its ability to compete would be seriously compromised if the T-Mobile deal was allowed to pass without major concessions.
“The Applicant’s July 20 Ex Parte is largely irrelevant, misplaced, and nonresponsive to the serious issues raised by MetroPCS,” the company wrote.
AT&T has maintained that the U.S. wireless market will remain sufficiently competitive if its acquisition of T-Mobile is approved.
Other wireless operators who want the FCC to block AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile have asked the agency to impose conditions on the deal if it is ultimately approved, including spectrum sell-offs, limits on handset exclusivity deals and mandated interoperability for the 700 MHz band.
AT&T is prepared to take $7.8 billion in “adverse effects” like spectrum and market divestures to get the deal passed, according to its merger agreement with T-Mobile. It is widely believed that the FCC will force AT&T to give up assets if it approves the T-Mobile buyout.