According to The Wall Street Journal, the FCC will soon update its spectrum screens to cover a wider array of spectrum. Spectrum screens increase the amount of scrutiny given to mergers or spectrum deals when a carrier owns more than one-third of all spectrum in a given market. The new spectrum screen adds a total of 128.5 megahertz to the screen, which Sprint owns 101 megahertz of.
The new screens would make it difficult for Sprint to make spectrum deals in many markets as it would meet or exceed the one-third mark in most major markets. The screens may also make it more difficult for Sprint to merge with T-Mobile (TMUS), should the carrier try to pursue such a merger.
Most of the spectrum in the new screens is in the 2.5 gigahertz band. Sprint acquired spectrum in the band when it acquired Clearwire last year. The spectrum was previously mostly used by religious and educational groups, and wasn't counted in the FCC's screens.
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