Even with threats from AT&T and Verizon, the FCC has gone forward and voted in favor of previously-proposed restrictions on the 2015 spectrum auction that will offer up valuable low-band airwaves to wireless carriers. The restrictions put in place will reserve portions of the spectrum going up for auction for carriers that don't already have large chunks of low-band spectrum, largely cutting out AT&T and Verizon from participating in many markets.
Though complaints from AT&T and Verizon that claimed the auction was unfairly placing restrictions on some participants made sense on the surface, the argument fell apart when you consider that those two carriers control as much as two-thirds of all low-band spectrum at this point. Opening up an auction that provides smaller carriers an opportunity to get more of this valuable spectrum makes sense, at least on that level. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had this to say:
"What this rule does is prevent those with current low-band spectrum from monopolizing the market in the auction by assuring that some spectrum will be available for those with insufficient amounts of spectrum to serve rural areas and penetrate buildings."
The spectrum auction is set to take place in mid-2015, when we'll find out how much money the government will be able to raise considering limited participation from the two biggest carriers in the country.
Beyond the auction, the FCC also voted in favor of expanding the "spectrum screen," which calculates how much usable spectrum is held by each carrier. With the new expansion, Sprint and Dish are both now considered to be holding even more usable spectrum due to their ownership of high-band airwaves.
Source: Yahoo Finance