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Verizon Wireless's Spectrum Deals Sail Through

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Mobile News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to approve Verizon Wireless 's proposed purchase of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from four cable operators and two other spectrum-related transactions with Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP) and T-Mobile US Inc. .

All told, Verizon Wireless is set to receive AWS from the joint venture of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks , as well as from Cox Communications Inc. Verizon Wireless is also to swap some spectrum with Leap, and assign some AWS licenses to T-Mobile. (See T-Mobile: We Need Verizon Spectrum to Compete, Verizon, Leap Swap Some Spectrum, MSOs Sell AWS Spectrum to Verizon for $3.6B and VZ Wireless Nabs Cox's AWS Spectrum for $315M .)

The FCC's 5-0 vote and order, released Thursday afternoon, follows an Aug. 16 conditional approval by the U.S. Department of Justice , whose consent decree placed some minor restrictions on the service bundling/commercial agreements between Verizon Wireless and its cable partners.

The FCC imposed some conditions as well, crafted with the DoJ:

  • Verizon Wireless must close its proposed spectrum transfer with T-Mobile within 45 days of its closing of the SpectrumCo, Cox and Leap deals.

  • Verizon Wireless has three years to provide signal coverage and offer service to at least 30 percent of the population in the economic areas or parts of them in which it's acquiring AWS-1 license authorizations. It has seven years to increase that to 70 percent.

  • Verizon Wireless must offer roaming for commercial mobile data services to other providers on "commercially reasonable terms and conditions," on any part of its spectrum in the areas where it's acquiring AWS, for five years. Other providers are allowed to negotiate their own terms.

  • The carrier also must provide reports concerning DSL subscribership trends after implementing its commercial, service bundling agreements with the cable operators.

No surprises here; the conditions generally follow those that Verizon Wireless itself proposed to the FCC. The full FCC order is available here (PDF).

Why this matters
FCC approval was all that was standing in the way of Verizon Wireless and its cable pals from getting the deal done. Comcast and TW Cable and Verizon Wireless have already begun to bundle services in several markets, but Thursday's OK will get the spectrum components kicked into high gear.

For more

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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