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AT&T Proposes Caps for Designated Entities

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May 11, 2015, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and a handful of other carriers today asked the FCC to consider a new way to define designated entities and small businesses in spectrum auctions moving forward. The proposal follows Dish Networks' use of designated entities — or small companies — to bid for spectrum in the AWS-3 auction on its behalf. The small companies qualified for a discount of $3 billion on Dish's $13.3 billion in spectrum winnings. AT&T and others are not happy about how Dish participated in the auction. "We envision a designated entity program that redefines 'small business' in a way that is more aligned with the structure of the modern wireless industry and that seeks to benefit true small entities — many of which operate in rural America." AT&T thinks any incentives offered to small businesses in future auctions should be limited to $10 million, an amount AT&T says "will provide a meaningful benefit to the very types of business the program is designed to benefit while ensuring policymakers that those who seek to abuse the program will not be rewarded." AT&T also wants to be sure auction winners use their spectrum. Dish Networks owns vast troves of spectrum that it has yet to do anything with. AT&T's proposal includes suggestions for an aggressive build-out once spectrum licenses are assigned so auction winners don't sit on their spectrum. The FCC has not responded publicly to AT&T's proposal.


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