A different purpose for Clearwire requires a different set of ownership rules

When Clearwire’s goal was to sell wholesale access and provide fast Internet for everyone, the fact that it owned about 160MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum in major metro areas wasn’t a big deal because it was planning on wholesaling the spectrum to carriers it could come to financial terms with. That spectrum was essentially available to all carriers. But not anymore.

With Sprint (or Dish, maybe) acquiring them completely, the rules for ownership change – that spectrum is no longer available to everyone. Instead, it’s locked to Sprint and its MVNOs. And if you think from that viewpoint, the rules of ownership change. Verizon thinks that, and I think that way too.

I’ve already talked about my idea for rebanding the BRS/EBS range so that carriers can get access to the spectrum, while still giving Sprint a huge leg up (Sprint would still end up with 100MHz TDD spectrum, and 80MHz FDD would be either given to incumbent owners or auctioned off). The FCC might even have a stricter viewpoint than me, giving Sprint less than what I suggest. Other carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T) could make good use of that spectrum instead of just letting Sprint sit on it.

Spectrum is a public good and should be treated as such. Giving Sprint nearly all the BRS/EBS band doesn’t serve the public interest if its going to take 10+ years to use it all (various technical reasons prevent them from using all of it now – most notably how much power would be needed to broadcast a signal from a device over a 100MHz range, the effective bandwidth currently is 20-40MHz; they could setup multiple 40MHz bands but you wouldn’t be able to aggregate them efficiently from a power standpoint).