According to a NY Times article today, the top antitrust enforcer in the Justice Department told the Senate yesterday that indeed, it is necessary to keep too much spectrum from falling into too few hands. Testifying before a Senate subcommittee, he backed the notion of a ‘spectrum screen’ in the interest of promoting competition when it comes to future auctions and M&A oversight.
To an extent, it’s a patently obvious statement. If all spectrum licenses suitable for mobile networks were in a single company’s hands, then there would be no competition at all. Hence, there must be a limit somewhere before there to make any regulatory sense at all. The question has always been how much is too much, not can there be too much.
More precisely, the question is whether we are anywhere near the point where that limit actually needs to be specified. The FCC is looking to put a set of criteria in place that is more rigorous than the case-by-case basis they’ve done in the past. But since not all spectrum is created equal, it starts to get messy no matter how you look at it.
But having the concept considered in Congress made one thing clear. When they get around to putting an actual spectrum screen in place, it’s going to look more like a double-sided target.