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FCC tightens rules on spectrum auction discounts

Evan Blass

Major wireless carriers planning to partner with smaller providers in order to get discounts on the upcoming wireless spectrum landrush have just been delivered a major blow by the FCC, with the agency announcing a tighter set of rules and penalties on a practice that had been popular in past auctions. According to the new rules, smaller carriers only qualify for discounts if they lease less than 50% of their licensed spectrum to other operators, and those discounts will be "further examined" for carriers sub-leasing as little as a quarter of their spectrum. Furthermore, if a carrier goes ahead and leases too much spectrum within the first five years after they've obtained a license, they must repay the entire amount of the discount plus interest. What does this all mean for the consumer? We're not completely sure about all the specifics, but we wouldn't be at all surprised if the increased costs to the major carriers happen to trickle down to our bills.

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