FCC accepting objections to Verizon's planned spectrum buy

January 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: Cox agrees to sell wireless spectrum to Verizon

Related Stories

Cox agrees to sell wireless spectrum to Verizon

December 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

December 4, 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

October 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 9, 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

A not-quite-random walk demystifies the algorithm

December 15, 2017

The algorithm is having a cultural moment. Originally a math and computer science term, algorithms are now used to account for everything from military drone strikes and financial market forecasts to Google search results.

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.

FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality' (Update)

December 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit ...

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.