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RCA Petitions for Conditions on Verizon & CableRCA Petitions for Conditions on Verizon & Cable

Carrier group made up of T-Mobile, Sprint and others is OK with Verizon's AWS spectrum buy provided the FCC applies some conditions to it

Sarah Thomas

May 14, 2012

3 Min Read
RCA Petitions for Conditions on Verizon & Cable

The RCA-The Competitive Carriers Association doesn’t necessarily want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block Verizon Wireless from acquiring Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from a group of cable companies, but it does want stipulations on the deal if it's to be approved.

RCA President and CEO Steven Berry outlined those stipulations, including spectrum divestitures, roaming agreements, backhaul policies and interoperability requirements, on a call Monday afternoon, held to introduce the Alliance for Broadband Competition. The Alliance is a group it hass formed, along with T-Mobile US Inc. , the Free Press and others that oppose the deal. (See T-Mobile Keys Group Targeting Verizon-MSO Deal .)

While some, like T-Mobile, called for an all-out blocking of the deal, the RCA was more lenient. Barry said the FCC was "asleep at the switch" when it allowed Verizon and fellow large wireless operator AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) to bifurcate the 700 MGHz spectrum, but it now has the opportunity to fix it. (See Sparks Start to Fly in VZ Wireless-MSO Deal, FCC Lengthens Review of Verizon's Spectrum Deal and Sprint, DirecTV Try to Stop Wireless Spectrum Review.)

"[Verizon] could almost create a walled garden LTE network within their own bands," Barry said on the call. "If we want to compete and promote a competitive industry with interoperability as a requirement, now is the time for the FCC to create it."

He said the industry needs roaming conditions, fair prices on backhaul and interoperability to give consumers real choice. Barry also called for more spectrum divestiture outside of the A and B block licenses Verizon has agreed to give up if the deal is approved. He was quick to point out this isn't the spectrum that other competitors would benefit from, but he didn't have a solid answer when asked what licenses he'd like to see divested instead. (See Verizon Will Sell Spectrum If It Seals AWS Deals.)

"I think it's the fiat of the FCC to determine spectrum divestiture policy," he said. "We hope they look closely at AWS."

Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead brought up the spectrum sell at last week's CTIA show, telling attendees he's confident the FCC would approve the deal. He also shot down claims that Verizon warehouses spectrum, noting that its decisions to sell A and B block licenses when no one was forcing it to do so indicates its not interested in warehousing it.

"We don’t have the most spectrum," he said on a carrier panel. "We have the most efficient use of spectrum. We have a very clear plan on how to optimize it for the benefit of consumers."

This is the main point T-Mobile took issue with, with Kathleen Ham, VP of federal regulatory affairs at the carrier, pointing out that when broken down by markets, Verizon comes in last in terms of spectral efficiency. The carrier's CTO, Neville Ray, also got a few digs in at CTIA, saying that T-Mobile has never been one to purchase spectrum and sit on it, unlike its competitors. He said interference issues with TV broadcasters plague the spectrum Verizon is offering to sell, rendering it unusable. (See T-Mobile CTO: Our 4G Stands Up to LTE Rivals and U.S. Cellular Eyes Verizon's 700MHz Spectrum.)

"I applaud Verizon for bringing spectrum to the market place they're not using, but I wish they'd do more with that," he said. "They have a stockpile of spectrum in 700 and AWS that they're not using today, and yet they want to acquire more spectrum."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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