RealTime IT News

AT&T Wants Clearwire Plan Petition Dismissed

AT&T has filed what could be the first volley in a battle over the proposed Sprint-Clearwire WiMAX network proposal. The company claims the formal petition for the project should be denied because the vendors aren't being truthful about spectrum holdings.

In its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing today, AT&T (NYSE: T) said the carriers are deliberately not including certain types of spectrum for review in order to avoid unofficial spectrum caps that trigger greater FCC scrutiny.

The spectrum referred to involves Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) licenses and lease arrangements the two vendors will enjoin, according to AT&T.

According to the filing, the Clearwire venture will create "a near monopoly in BRS/EBS spectrum" and that, according to Sprint public statements, the “new Clearwire will have an enviable 40 billion MHz pops position," which could be the largest spectrum position owned by one company.

"While AT&T does not fundamentally oppose the transaction, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Clearwire should be required to demonstrate that its merger serves the public interest just like any other providers would have to do," an AT&T spokesperson told InternetNews.com.

The spectrum battle is just one of several coming before the FCC these days; valuable spectrum space is in demand by carriers hungry to sell more data services and wireless services.

The fight this time is over the burgeoning WiMAX project. In May, Sprint and Clearwire announced their massive $14.5 billion joint venture to create a national WiMAX carrier that will be known as Clearwire. The network could provide service for up to 140 million people in the U.S. by 2010.

Sprint claims that over a hundred interested parties have filed positive comments with the FCC over the WiMAX proposal and plans to file its own formal response to the AT&T petition by August 4.

"Sprint Nextel and Clearwire have exhaustively documented all of their spectrum holdings, including a county by county breakout and described the myriad public interest benefits of the transaction," a Sprint spokesperson told InternetNews.com.

"The new independent company intends to build and operate the nation's first nationwide true broadband mobile network increase the quality of broadband, offer consumers more choice and stimulate innovation in the global wireless industry," added the spokesperson.

The FCC has indicated that it does not comment on petitions and filings.