US: FCC looks to thwart Sprint, T-Mobile auction plans

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it is looking to possibly ban the practice of joint bidding in government spectrum auctions, a move that would complicate plans by wireless competitors Sprint and T-Mobile to partner for next year’s spectrum sale.

Sprint and T-Mobile, which are reported to be in discussions to merge, said last month that in preparation for that merger they planned to raise $10 billion to jointly bid on low-frequency airwaves for the FCC’s auction next year. But according to FCC wireless telco bureau chief Roer Sherman, partnerships like that could harm competition.

”If two of the largest companies are able to bid as one combined entity in the auction, their combined resources may have the effect of suppressing meaningful competition,” he said in a statement published Friday, adding that the current rules that allow joint bidding were created before recent waves of consolidation in the market.

The FCC is now seeking public comment on the proposed rule changes.

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