Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who also serves as chairman of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee, announced Wednesday that plans for a hearing about the agreements between Verizon Wireless and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), are "well underway." Cox Communications Inc. has more recently joined in on a multifaceted deal that calls for the cable operators and the mobile carrier to bundle and promote their respective services and, separately, to sell their Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses to Verizon Wireless for a combined $4 billion.
Comcast and Verizon Wireless have the co-marketing piece of it up and running in three markets. Further down the road, the MSOs have an option to resell Verizon Wireless services under their own brands. (See Comcast, VZ Wireless Bundle Up in the Bay .)
Kohl did not set a specific date for the hearing, but it will likely take place sometime after Feb. 23, which ends the Presidents' Day recess, reports The Washington Post.
Why this matters
The specter of a Senate hearing isn't a huge surprise, but the line of folks wanting to examine the competitive impact of the deals continues to lengthen. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's comment cycle is underway, with petitions to deny due Feb. 21, and oppositions due March 2. The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is also probing the deal.
The MSOs involved in the deal have already agreed to provide the FCC with confidential details about the service-bundling component in order to keep the Commission's review on task. They insist, however, that the information they share in that part of the deal should have no bearing on the agency's review of the AWS spectrum sale.
Read up on the deal.
- Sparks Start to Fly in VZ Wireless-MSO Deal
- Comcast Subs Get a Taste of Verizon
- DoJ Sniffs Around VZ Wireless-Cable Deals
- VZ Wireless Nabs Cox's AWS Spectrum for $315M
- Verizon Wireless: Cable’s New BFF
- MSOs Sell AWS Spectrum to Verizon for $3.6B
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable