AT&T CEO blames FCC for price hikes

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Speaking at the Milken Institute's annual global conference, Stephenson said the U.S. wireless sector won’t be able to continue supporting AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile as independent competitors because there isn't enough available wireless spectrum between them to meet demand.

"We're running out of the airwaves that this traffic rides on," he said. "There is a shortage of this spectrum." 

Without mergers or spectrum transfers, Stephenson predicted wireless companies would be forced to scale back or delay new services.

"The more competitors you have, the less efficient the allocation of spectrum will be," he said. "It's got to change. I don't think the market's going to accommodate the number of competitors there are in the landscape."

The CEO predicted that wireless data consumption would jump by 75 percent year over year for at least the next five years.

Despite pointing the finger at the FCC, Stephenson said AT&T’s data caps probably would have been necessary even if the T-Mobile merger had been approved.

"I wish we had moved quicker to change the pricing model to make sure the people who were using the bandwidth were paying for the bandwidth," he said.