Cricket Communications today became the latest wireless service provider to join RCA – the Competitive Carriers’ Association. The move follows T-Mobile’s decision last week to join the organization, leaving AT&T and Verizon, both of whom are sometimes at odds with RCA, as the only major non-members. Cricket, owned by Leap Wireless International, says it is joining RCA at this time because the group is an effective advocate for legislation that will help Cricket. “The policy challenges ahead – which include ensuring that RCA’s members have access to additional spectrum needed to meet the market’s demand for advanced services and roaming policies…. are critical to Cricket’s continued success,” said Robert J. Irving, Cricket’s senior VP and general counsel. “We believe that RCA is uniquely positioned to deal with these and the many other issues confronting the competitive wireless industry.”
RCA president and CEO Steven K. Berry heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow to testify in a Notice of Proposed Rule Making related to spectrum band 12, and to voice his opposition to Verizon’s proposed $3.9 billion purchase of spectrum from Comcast, TWC, and Bright House Networks. Berry says he is hopeful on the outcome of both hearings. “I don’t want to count my chickens before they’re hatched,” he says, “but we are hopeful about what the FCC will decide.” Regarding the band 12 issue, Berry says RCA favors collapsing band 12 and band 17. “There are no technical impediments to collapsing those bands and when you do that you create scope and scale for everyone and you create more choices for consumers,” Berry says. “Right now consumers cannot take their handsets and go to other carriers because of the unique requirements that AT&T has put in place. They have carved out of band 12 a separate band called band 17, with handset specifications around these two unique bands. We favor interoperability standards.”
In his testimony opposing Verizon’s purchase of additional spectrum from Comcast et al., Berry will focus on a request for special access requirements that would allow competitive carriers to get access to some of the spectrum. “It’s like the Rolling Stones song,” says Berry. “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you get what you need.”
After his trip to Washington, Berry looks forward to heading down to Orlando for RCA’s Spring Expo. The event will feature keynote speeches by Sprint Nextel’s Bob Azzi, Doug Hutcheson of Leap Wireless, and Sanjay Ahuja, former CEO of LightSquared. “LightSquared has been considered one of the pathways to LTE for rural competitive carriers,” says Berry. “So it will be interesting to see what they will do next.”
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