FCC accepting objections to Verizon's planned spectrum buy

Jan 26, 2012 By Bob Fernandez

Those opposed to Verizon Wireless' deal to purchase wireless spectrum from Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks for $3.6 billion must file objections with the Federal Communications Commission by Feb. 21.

The deal includes separate commercial agreements in which Verizon Wireless and the cable companies will jointly market bundles of telecommunications services and develop new products.

Comcast and Verizon Wireless, whose majority owner is Inc., launched the marketing partnership on Jan. 17 in Seattle and Portland, Ore., and they are expected to expand it nationwide this year.

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona confirmed Tuesday that the department was looking into the proposed deal, but she declined to comment further.

Consumer advocate Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, said that the deal brings together two competitors in a joint venture - Verizon Communications and Comcast - and that a concern for regulators should be whether that impedes competition.

Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest - it added 1.2 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter, according to the company's earnings release Tuesday - is 55 percent owned by Verizon Communications and 45 percent by England's . Comcast officials have said Verizon Wireless is effectively a separate company from Verizon Communications, with its own board of directors.

Paul Macchia, spokesman for Verizon Wireless, declined to name the members of the Verizon Wireless board, saying it wasn't public information. A 2003 news release said the Verizon Wireless board at that time comprised five members from Verizon Communications and four from Vodafone.

In a filing with the FCC, the companies said the marketing agreements "have no bearing on whether the spectrum sale is in the public interest, do not require Commission approval, and, for several reasons, do not need to be part of the formal recording in this procedure." They are making available redacted copies of the agreements to the FCC for confidential review.

Comcast owns 63 percent of the wireless venture selling the spectrum to . The spectrum consists of 122 licenses with 20 to 30 megahertz of capacity, covering a geographic area in the United States with 260 million people.

Comcast said in a government filing that it invested about $20 million into the venture to develop a wireless network, testing potential technologies in King of Prussia, Pa. Comcast concluded that it would cost $10 billion to $11 billion in capital expenditures and operating losses to launch a national wireless network.

"The risks associated with this financial investment are substantial, and there is no assurance of a return," Robert Pick, senior vice president for corporate development at Comcast, said.

Robert McDowell, the only Republican FCC commissioner, was reported to have posed a question at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month as to whether Comcast purchased the wireless spectrum "under false pretenses" and whether it ever intended to use the spectrum.

In a blog posting last week, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said, "We bought the AWS (advance ) licenses with every intention to use that spectrum."

Explore further: Scientists twist radio beams to send data: Transmissions reach speeds of 32 gigabits per second

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cox agrees to sell wireless spectrum to Verizon

Dec 16, 2011

(AP) -- Cable company Cox Communications on Friday said that it has agreed to sell some of its airwave licenses to Verizon Wireless for $315 million and will resell Verizon service in its stores.

Verizon pays $3.6 bn to buy spectrum from cable firms

Dec 04, 2011

US cellphone giant Verizon Wireless said Friday it will pay $3.6 billion to buy wireless spectrum from three leading cable providers which are bowing out of plans to plunge into the cellphone business.

Verizon Wireless to pay $25M for spurious fees

Oct 28, 2010

(AP) -- Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay $25 million to the U.S. government and at least $52.8 million in refunds to customers who inadvertently racked up data charges on their phones over the last three years, federal ...

AT&T to buy territories from Verizon for $2.35B

May 09, 2009

(AP) -- AT&T Inc. said Friday it will buy the assets of Verizon Wireless in 79 mainly rural areas for $2.35 billion, a deal that will affect more than 1 million subscribers.

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

11 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

11 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

11 hours ago

A buying frenzy sent Alibaba shares sharply higher Friday as the Chinese online giant made its historic Wall Street trading debut.

User comments : 0