Sprint, T-Mobile, Others Fight Threat to FCC Spectrum Auction Powers

AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) are squaring off against Sprint (NYSE:S), T-Mobile and other U.S. wireless carriers in a battle over a new bill in Congress that would divest the Federal Communications Commission of crucial regulatory powers in spectrum auctions, reports The Verge.

A much-disputed clause in a long and convoluted bill called the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011,” would require that the FCC pay no attention to competitive factors when deciding bidding eligibility for wireless spectrum auctions.

The bill would also block the FCC from wielding its authority to put into action net neutrality measures or obligatory wholesale requirements on licensees in auctions, said The Verge.

In short, if the bill passes, heavyweight carriers could gain unlimited access to new wireless spectrum, as long as they can produce the cash

Sprint, T-Mobile, Cricket, and others said in a joint letter to Congress, that “stripping the FCC of its auction design direction would disserve the public interest by permitting unchecked participation by the two largest, best-funded wireless carriers in future spectrum auctions,” and that “it would facilitate spectrum warehousing, inefficient use of scarce spectrum resources, and reduce spectrum auction revenues to the US Treasury.”

Not surprisingly, AT&T and Verizon — which currently own an overwhelming majority of wireless spectrum and dominating resources — embrace the bill’s stipulations. AT&T believes the FCC should step out of the spectrum auction arena to give companies with resources and a desire to build network capacity a chance to quickly snap up spectrum, The Verge said.

Here’s how all these stocks closed today:

AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T): T shares recently traded at $29.99, down $0.03, or 0.1%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $27.27 to $31.94. Volume today was 18,073,808 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 26,176,700 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 45.44, while trailing earnings are $0.66 per share.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ): VZ shares recently traded at $37.92,. They have traded in a 52-week range of $32.28 to $40.48. Volume today was 8,764,598 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 14,072,300 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 44.61, while trailing earnings are $0.85 per share.

Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S): S shares recently traded at $2.39, down $0.02, or 0.83%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $2.10 to $6.45. Volume today was 45,885,823 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 36,477,700 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-0.84 per share.