Today’s must-read comes from Forbes‘ Larry Downes, who opines that “mobile Darwinists” in the Federal Communications Commission have have failed to take advantage of the upcoming H Block of wireless spectrum. The FCC erred in believing it could foster competition in the wireless industry and spark a bidding war for spectrum between Sprint, T-Mobile and Dish Network by carving out the H Block and putting it up for auction ahead of other frequencies, Downes argues. Instead, Dish is the sole major bidder committing to competing nationally for the spectrum and “will likely walk away with the H Block simply by bidding the reserve price of $1.56 billion.”
Downes’ point is that the FCC shouldn’t make special accommodations when it comes to wireless spectrum, and he makes a compelling case. But one looming question is what Dish will do if it really does win the H Block. Dish has pledged to bid the base price if the FCC relaxes conditions on its existing spectrum licenses, but the FCC has yet to agree to those terms. Onlookers have wondered for more than a year whether Dish truly intends to launch mobile services or simply wants to flip those current licenses once their value increases. That skepticism will only increase if Dish wins the H Block and wins some new concessions from the FCC in the process.