A post in the Motley Fool describes AT&T management as “bullish” when it comes to spectrum. The post uses AT&T’s attempts at acquiring T-Mobile last year (Wow, has it been a year?) as an example. Another example includes buying smaller companies in order to obtain more spectrum. AT&T’s two-year data plan package for 3G and 4G tablets is expected to eat into Sprint’s reputation as the cheapest provider of data, according to Motley Fool.
The bullishness appears like the appropriate strategy in my opinion. Sprint has made 70% of itself available for purchase by Japan’s Softbank and is also considering buying out the remaining investors in Clearwire. While Sprint’s pending moves won’t be enough to knock AT&T or Sprint from their industry leading positions, Sprint can become a stiffer competitor in the wireless market.
Hopefully the Federal Communications Commission continues to play observer this time around. A facilitating regulator the FCC was not as it signaled to the industry and the U.S. Department of Justice its lack of support for last year’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T. By rule, the FCC must approve the transfer of licenses from Clearwire to Sprint assuming Clearwire no longer operates as a separate entity if Sprint goes ahead with a buy. I would not be surprised if Sprint goes ahead with a complete acquisition that sends Clearwire into spectrum heaven. It would probably make the company more valuable to Softbank if Sprint actually has its name on those licenses.
Either way, the FCC should, to use a sports term, let them play. If any regulatory approvals are needed, they should be granted with haste. A minimalist regulatory approach is what’s needed right now.