updated 06:47 pm EDT, Sat June 2, 2012
Says 700MHz bandwidth purchased at auction worthless
Mississippi-based regional wireless service provider and iPhone carrier C Spire has filed an antitrust lawsuit with the US federal court against AT&T. C Spire claims that AT&T is unfairly using its market influence to prevent the small provider from full utilization of the 700Mhz spectrum that it has rights to. Furthermore, the claim states that AT&T conspired with Motorola and Qualcomm to insure that all of the regional carriers wouldn't have access to the newest devices.
The root of the lawsuit charges that AT&T induced the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to create a new Band after the public auction of the 700MHz spectrum in 2008. The new band prevented small carriers' hardware that connected with the different band from roaming on AT&T's new 4G network. AT&T contends that the new band was created to avoid television interference on channels that broadcast very close in the spectrum to the pre-existing 700MHz block.
In summary, C Spire claims that AT&T's moves have rendered its purchase of the 700MHz spectrum worthless, as it cannot purchase devices from suppliers, who favor the other end of the 700MHZ block. "C Spire Wireless filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against AT&T and others who conspired to assist AT&T in creating and maintaining a private, discriminatory spectrum band for AT&T devices," C Spire executive Eric Graham said in a statement. "This anti-competitive scheme has prevented C Spire Wireless from utilizing $192 Million worth of Lower 700MHz A block spectrum licenses acquired from the FCC at auction in 2008."
C Spire is seeking compensation for the purchase, plus damages from AT&T for itself and other regional carriers. The filing has requested that the trial be prioritized and trial to begin before September 2013.